LOS ANGELES: Olympic gold medallist Aly Raisman lashed out on Monday at a settlement put forward by USA Gymnastics for the Larry Nassar abuse scandal, describing the proposals as “offensive” to survivors of the jailed team doctor’s crimes. In an interview with NBC television’s Today morning news show, Raisman accused USA Gymnastics of attempting to prevent release of details which would show how Nassar was able to abuse athletes for years.
Raisman’s criticism followed reports last month that a tiered settlement system would be used to pay damages to Nassar’s victims, with payments ranging from $82,550 to $1.25 million. However attorneys for hundreds of women abused by Nassar have said the deal is insufficient, arguing it releases too many individuals and organisations from further claims, including the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee and former USA Gymnastics chief Steve Penny.
“It’s honestly offensive,” Raisman said Monday. “It shows they don’t care. They’re just trying to push it under the rug and hoping people will forget about it when they watch the Olympics this summer.” The 25-year-old, a member of the US women’s team which won gold at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympics, has been backed by former team-mate Simone Biles, who has also voiced dismay over the proposed settlement.
In a series of posts on Twitter on Saturday, Biles spoke of her anguish at the ongoing wrangling, accusing USA Gymnastics and US Olympic chiefs of failing to conduct an independent investigation into the scandal. “Ugh at the airport. Heading to team camp,” Biles wrote. “Still want answers from USAG and USOPC. Wish they BOTH wanted an independent investigation as much as the survivors & I do. Anxiety high. Hard not to think about everything that I
DON’T WANT TO THINK ABOUT!!!”
In a following post she added: “Don’t THEY also want to know HOW everything was allowed to happen and WHO let it happen so it NEVER HAPPENS AGAIN? Shouldn’t people be held accountable? Who do I ask??? I’m torn at this point.” Both Raisman and Biles have said they were abused by Nassar, 56, who was jailed for life in 2018 for a catalogue of abuse involving more than 250 girls.
Raisman, who in a tweet on Saturday accused USA Gymnastics and the US Olympic Committee of a “massive cover-up”, said the failure to obtain accountability over the scandal was “devastating”. “It’s incredibly draining. USA Gymnastics, United States Olympic Committee — they refused to take any accountability to address the issue, to figure out what went wrong.” “I personally would like to see USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic Committee release all their documents and data because they are not doing that. They’re not answering our questions.”
The outcry over the settlement comes with US gymnasts, including Biles, preparing for July’s Olympic Games in Tokyo. Raisman, who is now retired, spoke of her pride in her former team-mates’ preparations for the Olympics despite the settlement controversy. “I’ve been watching the gymnasts, and I’m really proud of them,” Raisman said. “I think that they’re doing an amazing job. I am heartbroken that this is still going on.” – AFP