Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman filed a lawsuit in California against the United States Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics claiming that the organizations were well aware of now-former Olympic doctor Larry Nassar’s decades of abuse and molestation of young athletes—and did nothing to intervene.
“My highest priority has been to push for change, so future generations of athletes will be safer. It has become painfully clear that these organizations have no intention of properly addressing this problem,” Raisman said in a statement. “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.”
Raisman was one of the hundreds of young women and girls who have alleged that Nassar repeatedly molested and harassed them over the span of two decades while working for USA Gymnastics. The Olympic organization fired Nassar in July 2015 after a month-long investigation into his behavior, but only notified the head of security for USOC a few months later. Neither organization, however, notified Michigan State University, where Nassar continued to practice medically and exploit clients for another year.
The lawsuit alleges that both the USOC and USA Gymnastics “willfully refused to notify, give adequate warning and implement appropriate safeguards” to protect young athletes from Nassar. John Manly, Raisman’s lawyer, has also released a statement alleging that the two organizations “attempted to frighten Ms. Raisman and other victims into keeping quiet.”
Nassar is currently serving a 60-year sentence for federal pornography charges that he plead guilty to in July 2017. Following court trials in Michigan’s Ingham and Eaton counties in January and February 2018 related to charges of child sexual abuse, Nassar received two sentences of 40 to 175 years and 40 to 125 years.
Over 260 women and girls came forward to share victim statements in court detailing the abuse they had suffered by Nassar. “You took advantage of our passions and our dreams,” Raisman said during her testimony. “I am here to face you, Larry, so you can see I have regained my strength. That I am no longer a victim, I am a survivor. I am no longer that little girl you met in Australia, where you first began grooming and manipulating. You caused me a great deal of physical, mental, and emotional pain. You never healed me.”
The Nassar scandal has already had major consequences for USA Gymnastics and USOC. At the end of January, the entire USA Gymnastics board resigned. In early February, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee announced it was launching an investigation into the roles of USOC, USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University, among others, in the case. And just a few weeks later, at the conclusion of the 2018 Winter Olympics, USOC CEO Scott Blackmun resigned after facing weeks of criticism for his failure to stop Nassar, although he cited health reasons for his stepping down.
Raisman’s lawsuit also comes after the president signed the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act into law. The legislation, written by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), requires sports organizations and governing bodies to report abuse allegations to local or federal law enforcement—which gets to the heart of the issue of Raisman’s charges.
“If over these many years, just one adult listened and had the courage and character to act,” Raisman declared during her court testimony, “this tragedy could have been avoided.”