Aly Raisman: USA Gymnastics 'ignoring us, not creating change'
Three-time gold-medal-winning gymnast Aly Raisman lashed out against USA Gymnastics on ESPN's Outside the Lines on Tuesday, saying the organization ignored allegations of sexual abuse against Dr. Larry Nassar and even "threatened" her to be quiet.
Raisman came forward in November, saying she was one of 125 women -- including Olympic medalists, college athletes in multiple sports and family friends -- to have filed complaints to police against Nassar since September 2016, alleging sexual abuse. More than 150 women have filed civil suits.
USA Gymnastics issued a statement Monday, saying the organization "admires and supports the young women who have courageously stepped forward to share their stories of abuse" and that it is "sorry that any athlete was harmed during her gymnastics career."
Raisman, a two-time national team captain, took umbrage to USA Gymnastics' statement, saying "they don't mean it."
"I was told [by USA Gymnastics] to be quiet," Raisman told Outside the Lines about having first told the organization of the abuse by Nassar. "And I think that when somebody in high power is telling you to be quiet, right when they realized you are abused, I think that that is a threat, and especially when their first concern should be to make sure I'm OK, to get information from me, to see if my other teammates were abused, to see what else I knew, to get to the bottom of it.
"... USA Gymnastics just said, 'We're handling this. We got this. Like, stop asking us questions. Don't talk about it because you're going to tip off the investigation.' So I didn't want to jeopardize anything. Come to find out, [USA Gymnastics] didn't report it right away."
The 54-year-old Nassar, the former national medical director for USA Gymnastics and a renowned physician at Michigan State University's sports clinic, pleaded guilty in November to 10 total counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct as part of a plea deal. A four-day sentencing hearing for the disgraced former doctor and convicted serial sexual predator on seven of those counts began Tuesday in Lansing, Michigan.
He faces a sentence of 40 to 125 years in prison for sexual abuse after already being sentenced to 60 years in prison on child pornography charges.
"The second that I realized [she was being abused by Nassar], I told my mom and then we told USA Gymnastics," Raisman, a six-time Olympic medalist, told Outside the Lines. "And, to me, it seemed like they threatened me to be quiet. You know, their biggest priority from the beginning and still today is their reputation, the medals they win and the money they make off of us. I don't think that they care. If they cared, then the second they realized that I was abused, they would have reached out, asked if I needed therapy, asked if I was OK, asked what they could have done and they would have -- they would have made a big change.
"Instead, they allowed Larry to continue to work on little girls in Michigan and molest gymnasts for a very long time. ... I don't know how they sleep at night. I'm so angry that, after realizing that we were abused, they let him continue to molest other gymnasts when they told me there was an investigation going on. They told me to be quiet. I thought that they were doing the right thing, and I didn't want to tip off the investigation. I trusted them and I shouldn't have."
Nassar was a trainer with USA Gymnastics as far back as 1986. In 1996, he was named national medical director, a position he held until the summer of 2015. Nassar resigned his position from USA Gymnastics shortly after concerns were raised about his behavior during medical exams.
USA Gymnastics never informed Nassar's employer at the time, Michigan State University, about the circumstances surrounding Nassar's resignation, and he continued to treat patients in Michigan until he was fired by the school in September 2016.
USA Gymnastics hired Kerry Perry as its new president and CEO in November after president Steve Penny resigned in March following nearly 12 years on the job. Perry did attend court Tuesday, but would not comment to ESPN's John Barr.
Raisman has in the past called for sweeping changes in leadership at USA Gymnastics, including the removal of the chairman of the board, Paul Parilla. She still thinks there hasn't been enough change and that the organization's response to the Nassar developments have been "disappointing."
"Every single time they release a statement, it's basically the same thing, saying they care and they're ... welcome to work with their athletes," Raisman told Outside the Lines. "But they don't mean it. You know, if they really cared, the second they realized that we were abused, they would meet with us and ask us to help, because we're all more than willing to help. We want to create change.
"And you know, if they really cared, if they really were sorry, they would be there in Michigan supporting all of their athletes and listening to their impact statements. But, I mean, I don't think they care. I don't think they're sorry. I think they just released their statements, and it's disappointing. You know, if they really cared, then there would be a lot of change. And there has not been enough change."