Last week, Raisman and her former teammate McKayla Maroney announced that they wouldn't be part of the USOC's independent investigation into the crimes, because they didn't trust the organization's ability to conduct a fair analysis. Raisman reiterated her frustration in a statement to NBC News about the lawsuit.
"After all this time, they remain unwilling to conduct a full investigation, and without a solid understanding of how this happened, it is delusional to think sufficient changes can be implemented," she told NBC News. "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 filed the lawsuit yesterday morning in California. The suit alleges that the USOC "had a culture and atmosphere that conceals known and suspected sexual abusers, which transcends all policies and procedures that are set-in place," ESPN reports.
Gymnastics is a deeply competitive sport that puts young, impressionable women into high-stakes, insular environments. As Robert Andrews, MA, LMFT, a sports performance coach who has worked with Olympic gymnasts, told Refinery29 in January: "[USAG] let it go because they win a medal, and the medals are more important than the athletes. It looks like the system is working, but now that we look behind the curtain, it's dreadfully messed up."
If something doesn't feel right, it's important to ask questions and speak up. It's just important to remember that you have a voice and you deserve to be heard.
Aly Raisman, three-time gold medal Olympic gymnastic
In 2017, an organization called SafeSport was put in place to institute polices that help protect USOC athletes from abuse and misconduct. SafeSport's code of conduct explicitly forbids sexual misconduct, one-on-one meetings with minors, and certain "compromising" physical contact, such as laying or sitting on top of a gymnast.
But the USOC ignored these policies by giving Nassar unfettered, private access to young gymnasts, and then failing to follow through on multiple complaints against Nassar. According to Raisman's lawsuit, the USOC's motivation was "to protect its reputation and blind itself to known abusers within the ranks of the NGBs [national governing bodies] for which it is responsible." There's plenty of evidence — including emails and FBI reports — that USAG and USOC were made aware of the abuse before it became national news. Still, the organizations deny that they knew or tried to cover it up.
Since Raisman came forward as a survivor of Nassar's abuse, she has been tenaciously pushing for the organizations to be held accountable for their role in it. She's also been using her platform to advocate for survivors. In a Refinery29 Facebook Live segment last month, Raisman said that she encourages people to use their voices and follow through when something feels wrong. "Trust yourself, trust your gut," she said. "If something doesn't feel right, it's important to ask questions and speak up. It's just important to remember that you have a voice and you deserve to be heard."
It's clear that Raisman will continue to use her voice to ask the tough questions and speak up about the injustices she experienced. This lawsuit is proof that Raisman won't back down until justice is served.