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Olympic champion Aly Raisman filed a lawsuit this week against the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics, claiming that their inaction enabled former team doctor Larry Nassar to sexually abuse her and more than a hundred other women and girls for years.
Raisman’s complaint states that Nassar abused her while she was training at the Karolyi Ranch National Training Center in Texas, and at competitions including the 2012 Olympics in London. The lawsuit says that the USOC was “aware, at the highest levels of its organization, that Defendant Nassar had molested Olympic and National Team level gymnasts.”
The gymnast’s attorney, John Manly, said that the USOC and USA Gymnastics were involved in a “conspiracy to silence victims and cover-up the largest child sex abuse scandal in history,” according to ABC News.
Nassar himself is also named as a defendant, as are former USA Gymnastics President Steve Penny and Chairman of the Board Paul Parilla.
Raisman was just one of the high-profile athletes who have spoken out against Nassar and the organizations that they claim enabled him. Former Olympians Jamie Dantzscher and Jordyn Wieber appeared in court to deliver victim impact statements at one of Nassar’s sentencing hearings, and McKayla Maroney wrote a statement that was read in court. They joined hundreds of others who spoke out against the former doctor and the organizations.
In a statement on Friday, Raisman explained why she believes her lawsuit is necessary to achieve justice, saying, “It has become painfully clear that these organizations have no intention of properly addressing this problem.” She continued:
After all this time, they remain unwilling to conduct a full investigation, and without a solid understanding of how this happened, it is delusional to think sufficient changes can be implemented. Meanwhile, thousands of young athletes continue to train and compete every day in this same broken system. I refuse to wait any longer for these organizations to do the right thing. It is my hope that the legal process will hold them accountable and enable the change that is so desperately needed.
Law&Crime reached out to the USOC for comment. USA Gymnastics’ new president Kerry Perry issued a statement on Thursday that addressed Nassar’s abuse.
“The best way to honor our athletes is to ensure that we do everything we can to prevent this from happening again by making bold decisions and holding ourselves to the highest standards of care,” Perry said. She also listed a number of actions the organization is taking, including closing down the Karolyi Ranch training center, requiring mandatory reporting of abuse, and making it easier to report such abuse.
In a new statement Friday afternoon, USA Gymnastics said they would not comment on Raisman’s complaint, but they did address the allegations of abuse:
USA Gymnastics supports our athletes, like Aly Raisman, Jacob Moore and others, who have shared their experiences with abuse, and we are very sorry that any athlete has been hurt by the despicable crimes of Larry Nassar. USA Gymnastics first became aware that an athlete had expressed concern about a procedure by Larry Nassar in June 2015, which led USA Gymnastics to report Nassar to the FBI and dismiss him from further involvement with USA Gymnastics. USA Gymnastics is committed to doing everything we can to prevent this from happening again by making bold decisions and holding ourselves to the highest standards of care. We need the gymnastics community to join with us to accomplish this for both the young men and women who are pursuing their gymnastics dreams today and to honor those who have gone before.
Note: This article has been updated with USA Gymnastics’ statement.
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