NEW YORK (AP) — Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman says she is among the young women sexually abused by a former USA Gymnastics team doctor.
Raisman tells “60 Minutes” she was 15 when she was first treated by Dr. Larry Nassar, who spent more than two decades working with athletes at USA Gymnastics. He’s now is in jail in Michigan awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to possession of child pornography.
Raisman, the captain of the 2012 and 2016 Olympic gold-medal winning teams, details the abuse in her book “Fierce,” which will be released on Tuesday. Raisman’s interview with “60 Minutes” will air on Sunday night.
Raisman is the latest gymnast to claim she was sexually abused by Nassar. McKayla Maroney, who won two medals at the 2012 Games as Raisman’s teammate, said last month she was molested for years by Nassar.
USA Gymnastics released a statement about the allegations:
Aly Raisman’s achievements have made her one of our country’s most decorated gymnasts, and her dedication and determination to succeed have inspired fans around the world. In the last year, Aly has become an advocate for many issues, and sharing her personal experience of abuse takes great courage.
We are appalled by the conduct of which Larry Nassar is accused, and we are very sorry that any athlete has been harmed during her or his gymnastics career.
Aly’s passion and concern for athlete safety is shared by USA Gymnastics. Our athletes are our priority, and we are committed to promoting an environment of empowerment that encourages speaking up, especially on difficult topics like abuse, as well the protection of athletes at all levels throughout our gymnastics community.
We are hard at work to strengthen that commitment by: adopting the USA Gymnastics Safe Sport Policy; hiring a new president and chief executive officer who emphasizes empowerment throughout the organization; building a safe sport department that is developing a comprehensive education plan for members; and creating an implementation plan for the recommendations made by an experienced, former federal prosecutor who carefully examined the organization’s past policies. The Safe Sport Policy strengthens policies that include mandatory reporting, defines six types of misconduct, sets standards to prohibit grooming behavior and prevent inappropriate interaction, and establishes greater accountability.
Working together with athletes, coaches, club owners, judges, parents and the gymnastics community, we are confident these steps will help further develop a culture of empowerment that has safe sport as a top priority throughout the organization. We are committed to doing what is right, and we want to work with Aly and all interested athletes to keep athletes safe.
Nassar also is awaiting trial on separate criminal sexual conduct charges and has been sued by more than 125 women alleging sexual abuse. Nassar has pleaded not guilty to the assault charges, and the dozens of civil suits filed in Michigan are currently in mediation.
The 23-year-old Raisman has been highly critical of USA Gymnastics in recent months, calling for leadership change at the top of the organization while advocating for athlete’s rights.
USA Gymnastics launched an independent review of its policies in the wake of the allegations against Nassar and reporting by the Indianapolis Star in August 2016 that highlighted chronic mishandling of sexual abuse allegations against coaches and staff at some of its more than 3,500 clubs across the country.
Nassar began working with USA Gymnastics as an athletic trainer in 1986 and became the national team doctor in 1996. He stepped down in 2014 but remained on staff before being fired in 2015.
“These girls, they should be comfortable going to USA Gymnastics and saying ‘I need help, I want therapy. I need this,'” Raisman said in an interview with The Associated Press and USA Today in August during the 2017 national championships.
Raisman declined to get into specifics at that time about whether she was abused by Nassar but painted a vivid picture of how Nassar’s behavior went unchecked.
“I think that, you just want, you want to trust people and that he was just a disgusting person, he took advantage of so many people’s trust,” Raisman said. “And I think, it just disgusts me he was a doctor. It’s crazy. Because when a doctor says something you want to believe him and it’s just awful.”
Jamie Dantzscher, a bronze medalist on the 2000 U.S. Olympic team, filed a lawsuit against Nassar in California in September 2016. She says Nassar touched her inappropriately while disguising the abuse as treatment. Dantzscher initially filed as “Jane Doe” but came forward publicly to “60 Minutes” in February.
In June, the gymnastics board adopted the new USA Gymnastics SafeSport Policy that replaced the previous policy. Key updates include mandatory reporting, defining six types of misconduct, setting standards to prohibit grooming behavior, preventing inappropriate interaction and establishing accountability.
In July, the organization hired Toby Stark, a child welfare advocate, as its director of SafeSport. Part of Stark’s mandate is educating members on rules, educational programs and reporting. The federation also adopted several recommendations by Deborah Daniels, a former federal prosecutor who oversaw the review. USA Gymnastics now has the power to withhold membership from clubs that decline to report claims of abuse.
Clubs are now “required to report child abuse or neglect, including sexual misconduct, to proper authorities, including the U.S. Center for SafeSport and law enforcement authorities.”
The organization has taken some steps to provide more oversight and safety to its national team gymnasts.
Team members who fly into Houston for training camps must be escorted to the camp with at least two other people to avoid any one-on-one interaction. Underage female gymnasts with male coaches who are picked to compete internationally must now travel with a credentialed female chaperone. One-on-one visits by medical staff are prohibited at cabins the athletes use during overnight stays at the national training center.
USA Gymnastics announced Tuesday it hired Kerry Perry as the organization’s new president and CEO. Perry starts on Dec. 1.