In January, when gymnast Aly Raisman gave her impact statement at Larry Nassar's sentencing hearing, she called out Kerry Perry, the CEO and president of USA Gymnastics (USAG), for giving "statements of empty promises" in order to pacify the gymnasts who came forward. Nassar was the USAG team coach who sexually abused hundreds of young gymnasts for decades, and was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison. Raisman has been highly critical of USAG and the United States Olympic Committee, claiming that they knew about the abuse.
"Kerry, I have never met you, and I know you weren’t around for most of this. But you accepted the position of president and CEO of USA Gymnastics, and I assume by now you are very well aware of the weighty responsibility you’ve taken on," Raisman said. "Unfortunately, you’ve taken on an organization that I feel is rotting from the inside, and while this may not be what you thought you were getting into, you will be judged by how you deal with it."
Now five months later, Perry released her first public apology in a testimony published ahead of her congressional hearing appearance today. Perry will testify before the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, along with presidents of three other Olympic sport committees: swimming, volleyball, gymnastics, and Taekwondo.
Their powerful voices will not be forgotten.
Kerry Perry, CEO and president of USA Gymnastics
"I want to apologize to all who were harmed by the horrific acts of Larry Nassar. I was in the courtroom to listen to the incredibly courageous women explain in vivid and painful detail the damage he did to their lives," Perry wrote. "Their powerful voices will not be forgotten. I commit to you that I will keep their words and experiences at the core of every decision I make, every day, as the leader of this organization. Their stories have broken my heart, but also strengthened my resolve."
Perry also outlined changes that USAG has implemented already in order to ensure that this doesn't happen again, including closing the team training center at the Karolyi Ranch, and replacing executives at USAG. According to Perry, USAG has expanded its Safe Sport department, and promised to strongly enforce their policies. She also said that they have created an Athlete Task Force that will help inform the organization's future decisions, and will host "listening forums" for survivors and athletes. They've also created a toll-free number (833- 844-SAFE) and email (email@example.com) specifically for reporting abuse.
These changes sound comforting. Raisman and other athletes have said that in order to prevent abuse from happening, the entire organization has to be rebuilt from the ground up, and the toxic culture has to be examined. But time will tell what further changes will result from this hearing. Or, as Raisman put it in her impact statement: "This sounds great, Ms. Perry, but at this point talk is cheap."