Earlier this week, former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar was given an effective life sentence of up to 175 years in prison for sexually assaulting underage girls. And now, one of the gymnasts who went public about him is pushing for more scrutiny of the organization that allowed him to operate. Aly Raisman wants USA Gymnastics to undergo an independent investigation, and she believes anyone who contributed to the problem should be removed from the organization.
Raisman tweeted out a two-page letter to U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) CEO Scott Blackmun. Following Nassar's sentencing, Blackmun announced that an investigation would be conducted by an independent third party, and that both the USOC and USA Gymnastics would fall under its purview. He also requested that all current members of the USA Gymnastics board of directors resign their positions. He added, however, that the demand for resignations was not based on any knowledge of wrongdoing relating to the Nassar's crimes.
"We do not base these requirements on any knowledge that any individual USAG staff or board members had a role in fostering or obscuring Nassar's actions," Blackmun said.
Raisman expressed approval for the investigation in her letter, but also highlighted Blackmun's above statement, saying that it showed "exactly the problem we face now."
This is exactly the problem we face now, as the sport tries to address this situation without the knowledge an investigation would provide. Many of the "shocking and tragic stories" shared by the survivors have directed blame at people who are still working with or for USAG. Some of the survivors spoke about these things for the first time at their sentencing hearings. I suspect there are others who may still come forward, and still others that won't. Regardless, unless you ignore what these survivors are saying, it is clear we still don't know the full extent of the problem or everything that contributed to it.
Raisman also requested some "assurances" about the nature and scope of the investigation. Specifically, she wants to make sure that nobody who was institutionally involved in enabling Nassar's abuse gets off the hook. Here's what she wants, quoted verbatim:
- "The investigation will operate with complete independence."
- "The investigator will be able to investigate staff, senior administrators, and the Board of Directors, and will have full access to data and documents."
- "The investigator will be able to follow any lead to get to the bottom of what happened, and then make recommendations that ensure it never happens again."
- "The scope of the investigation will cover all factors that contributed to Nassar's abuse, including those who knew about it, should have known about it, enabled it to happen or continue, as well as the questions on reporting your raised in your letter to USAG."
- "Neither USOC or USAG will interfere with, or attempt to influence, the findings of the investigator's report."
- "The investigator will release the report and the findings to the USOC, USAG, and the public at the same time, without providing an advance copy to anyone outside of the investigator's team. And that work product won't be shared with anyone not part of the investigator's team."
Raisman, 23, was a member of both the 2012 and 2016 U.S. women's gymnastics teams, and she served as the captain both times. Since going public with her own story of being abused by Nassar, she's become one of the most visible and vocal advocates for the girls he victimized throughout his tenure as a Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics doctor.
Her emotional and powerful victim impact statement during Nassar's sentencing hearing made major waves in the media, although she was far from the only woman to speak out; in fact, a staggering 163 women ended up telling their stories in court, including several of her Olympic teammates, as well as Rachael Denhollander, the first woman to alert the press to Nassar's crimes.