FILE PHOTO: 2016 Rio Olympics - Artistic Gymnastics - Final - Women's Floor Final - Rio Olympic Arena - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 16/08/2016. Alexandra Raisman (USA) of USA (Aly Raisman) competes. REUTERS/Mike Blake
November 10, 2017
By Frank Pingue
(Reuters) – Three-time Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman said she was sexually abused by former USA Gymnastics’ team physician Larry Nassar, according to an interview with CBS News program “60 Minutes” that will air on Sunday.
The American gymnast is the most prominent athlete to come forward so far about Nassar, who is in jail awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to federal child pornography charges.
“I am angry. I’m really upset,” Raisman, who captained the ‘Final Five’ U.S. women to the most dominant Olympic victory in the team event at the 2016 Rio Games, said in a clip released by “60 Minutes.”
“When 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.”
Nassar’s attorneys, Matt Newburg and Shannon Smith, each said that due to a gag order imposed they had no comment.
According to “60 Minutes,” more than 130 women, many of them former athletes, have filed civil lawsuits alleging that Nassar, who was involved with USA Gymnastics for nearly three decades before his tenure ended in 2015, sexually abused them under the guise of treating them for hip, back and other athletic injuries.
Nassar, once a team doctor for Olympians at USA Gymnastics and a former employee at Michigan State University, has pled not guilty to charges of sexual assault.
The 23-year-old Raisman was first treated by Nassar when she was 15. She details the abuse allegations in a new book called “Fierce” that offers new insights into a scandal that goes to the highest level of her sport.
Raisman is the second member of the ‘Fierce Five’ gymnasts who won a team gold at the 2012 London Olympics to allege abuse by Nassar, joining McKayla Maroney.
Maroney, who could not be reached for comment, said last month on Twitter that Nassar’s abuse of her began when she was 13 and was disguised as “medically necessary treatment.”
USA Gymnastics conducted a review of its procedures for handling sexual misconduct issues following reports last year that the organization turned a blind eye to allegations.
Steve Penny resigned in March as head of USA Gymnastics and the federation adopted a number of reforms in June that it said will help to better prevent and respond to future cases of abuse.
USA Gymnastics, which this week announced Kerry Perry as the organization’s new president and chief executive, commended Raisman for coming forward.
“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,” said USA Gymnastics.
“Aly’s passion and concern for athlete safety is shared by USA Gymnastics.”
Raisman, who is calling for major changes at USA Gymnastics, the national governing body for her sport, was asked in the interview why Nassar’s accusers did not speak up sooner.
“Why are we looking at why didn’t the girls speak up? Why not look at ‘What about the culture?'” said Raisman. “What did USA Gymnastics do, and Larry Nassar do, to manipulate these girls so much that they are so afraid to speak up?”
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Alden Bentley)