Aly Raisman, a six-time Olympic medalist and one of America’s most famous athletes, has added her voice to the many gymnasts accusing a former USA Gymnastics doctor of abuse.
Speaking to 60 Minutes in an interview set to air Sunday night, Raisman charged that Larry Nassar, a longtime doctor for the United States’ gymnastics teams, abused her. She delves into further detail in her new book “Fierce,” set to reach shelves next week.
Nassar served as team doctor for USA Gymnastics for nearly 20 years. He was fired in July 2015, and earlier this year pleaded guilty to federal child pornography charges. He’s scheduled to be sentenced in December, and faces 22 to 27 years in prison. Nassar also faces 33 charges of criminal sexual conduct in Michigan, and more than 140 gymnasts have come forward charging that he abused them while they were in his care. Victims included Raisman’s Fierce Five teammate McKayla Maroney, who revealed her own abuse by Nassar last month.
”What people don’t realize is that this doctor was a doctor for 29 years,” Raisman said earlier this summer. “Whether or not he did it to a gymnast, they still knew him. Even if he didn’t do it to you, it’s still the trauma and the anxiety of wondering what could have happened. I think that needs to be addressed. These girls, they should be comfortable going to USA Gymnastics and saying: ‘I need help, I want therapy. I need this.”’
Nassar’s firing, as well as media investigations of inappropriate conduct and cover-ups, have prompted calls for a complete overhaul of USA Gymnastics’ operations and policies. Raisman, Maroney, and other powerful voices are hopeful that positive change can come from this trauma.
“I am angry. I’m really upset,” Raisman said in her 60 Minutes interview. “I see these young girls that come up to me, and they ask for pictures or autographs, whatever it is … I just want to create change so that they never, ever have to go through this.”
In response to Raisman’s charges, USA Gymnastics released the following statement:
“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,” the statement reads. “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 … We are committed to doing what is right, and we want to work with Aly and all interested athletes to keep athletes safe.”
The revelations of Nassar’s abuse resulted in the resignation of USA Gymnastics CEO Steve Penny. In addition, USA Gymnastics brought aboard a former federal prosecutor to review the organization. The investigator, Deborah Daniels, advised a “complete cultural change” to emphasize safety, and USA Gymnastics has pledged to implement all 70 of Daniels’ recommendations.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at email@example.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.