Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman blasted the U.S. Olympic Committee for “shamelessly taking credit” for the resignations of three USA Gymnastics board members who stepped down Monday after calls from angry gymnasts who say the organization did nothing to protect them after they were abused by former team doctor Larry Nassar.
Chairman Paul Parilla, vice chair Jay Binder and treasurer Bitsy Kelley announced they were stepping down as testimony in Nassar's sentencing hearing in Michigan moved into its second week.
In a statement late Monday, Raisman claimed that a day after the Indianapolis Star named Nassar in a report on USA Gymastics' lackluster response to allegations of assault the “USOC said they wouldn’t investigate (and even praised USAG’s work in the area of sexual abuse).”
"For the past week, survivors came forward to courageously face a perpetrator of evil and to share their painful stories. Many of them, myself included, claim the USOC is also at fault. Was the USOC there to 'focus on supporting the brave survivors?’ No. Did they issue any statement then? Crickets," Raisman wrote.
Nassar pleaded guilty to assaulting seven people in Ingham County, but the sentencing hearing has been open to anyone who said they were a victim. Almost 160 women or girls have asked to speak or have a statement read on their behalf. Under a plea deal, he faces a minimum of 25 to 40 years behind bars, although the actual sentence could be much higher.
He already has been sentenced to 60 years in federal prison for child pornography crimes.
Raisman revealed in November 2017 that she was among the young women allegedly abused by Nassar. She detailed her experience at the hands of the embattled doctor in several TV interviews and in her book, “Fierce.”
U.S. & World
News from around the country and around the globe
Nassar has admitted sexually assaulting athletes under the guise of medical treatment when he was employed by Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics, which is the sport's national governing organization and trains Olympians. Nassar already has been sentenced to 60 years in federal prison on child pornography crimes.
The case has triggered calls for the resignation of Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon, while the state's attorney general has agreed to review how the university handled complaints against Nassar. USA Gymnastics also announced the suspension of former women's national team coach John Geddert, the owner of a gymnastics club where Nassar sexually abused girls near Lansing, Michigan.
A person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press that USOC CEO Scott Blackmun met with Parilla earlier this month and asked for his resignation. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the issue publicly.
In a statement Monday, Blackmun said the USOC has been discussing changes with leaders at USA Gymnastics since October.
"Those discussions accelerated over the holidays and today you have seen three board resignations," Blackmun said. "New board leadership is necessary because the current leaders have been focused on establishing that they did nothing wrong. USA Gymnastics needs to focus on supporting the brave survivors."
Raisman chided the USOC for taking "zero accountability" in the Nassar abuse scandal and called for an independent investigation of both the USOC and USA Gymnastics.
"What’s it going to take for you to do the right thing?" she added.
The USOC did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Raisman's statement.