On the weekend of the P&G Gymnastics Championships in Anaheim, CA, Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman decided to speak out against USA Gymnastics. She's using her considerable fame to highlight the complaints of other women who say the organization is not doing enough to make up for the fact that hundreds of women were sexually abused by professionals in the sport.
"The people at the very top, that work at the office every single day at USA Gymnastics, they need to do better," Raisman said in an interview with USA Today and the Associated Press. She said she was speaking out because she was disappointed with the way the organization failed to address the alleged victims.
USA Gymnastics has been under fire since the revelation last year that 368 women alleged they had been sexually exploited or abused by coaches or other professionals over the span of 20 years. The most high-profile alleged perpetrators of this abuse is team physician Larry Nassar, who currently faces 33 charges of criminal sexual misconduct in Michigan, and 125 women are suing him for abusing them during their appointments. While he pleaded guilty to child pornography charges earlier this year, many of his alleged victims say they are unsatisfied with how USA Gymnastics handled things. The Orange County Register reported that the organization reached a confidential settlement with a teen who said she was a victim of Nassar, indicating they knew what was happening before this scandal blew up.
For its part, USA Gymnastics hired former federal prosecutor Deborah Daniels to review its practices with regard to the safety and health of its athletes, and it adopted all 70 of her recommendations. Going forward, it will be working with SafeSport, the U.S. Olympic Committee's effort to prevent all types of abuse of its athletes.
Raisman is echoing the victims who have come forward to say that still more needs to be done.
"It can’t just be about we’re making sure the athletes feel safe now," Raisman said. "It has to be going back and apologizing and going to these families and going to all these gymnasts and saying, `What made you feel unsafe? What can we do for the next generation?'...They need to be calling up all of these people that have come forward and say, 'Can you please help us and tell us what part of it was wrong? What part made you feel unsafe? What could we do differently?’ "
In response, USA Gymnastics said in a statement, "We welcome (Raisman's) passion on this critical issue. As we have said, we are appalled by the conduct of which Larry Nassar is accused. And, we are sorry that any athlete has been harmed during her or his gymnastics career."