Home News Gabby Douglas says she was abused by former team doctor Larry Nassar

Gabby Douglas says she was abused by former team doctor Larry Nassar

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Nancy Armour and Rachel Axon, USA TODAY Sports
Published 6:40 p.m. ET Nov. 21, 2017 | Updated 6:49 p.m. ET Nov. 21, 2017

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Aly Raisman said she, too, was sexually abused by USA Gymnastics’ longtime team physician Larry Nassar.
USA TODAY Sports

A third member of the Fierce Five team that won Olympic gymnastics gold in 2012 has come forward to say she was sexually abused by Larry Nassar.

In an Instagram post addressing comments she made last week that were viewed as victim shaming, Gabby Douglas wrote, “It would be like saying that because of the leotards we wore, it was our fault that we were abused by Larry Nassar. I didn’t publicly share my experiences as well as many other things because for years we were conditioned to stay silent and honestly some things were extremely painful.”

Douglas is saying that Nassar abused her, a representative for the 2012 Olympic champion confirmed.

Douglas, 21, is a three-time Olympic gold medalist and part of the Fierce Five in 2012 and Final Five in 2016.

Earlier this month, Aly Raisman — Douglas’ teammate on the last two Olympic teams — came forward to say Nassar had abused her. Last month, McKayla Maroney shared in an Instagram post that Nassar abused her from when she was 13 until she left the sport.

More: Raisman on alleged abuser: ‘You don’t think that of someone, so I trusted him’

More: McKayla Maroney says she was victim of sexual abuse

Related: Nassar expected to plead guilty, faces at least 25 years in prison

Jamie Dantzscher, a bronze medalist from the 2000 Sydney Games, has also said Nassar abused her.

In a tweet on Friday, Raisman wrote a lengthy note explaining that what a woman wears does not give men the right to abuse her and imploring people to stop shaming victims.

“We are all in this together. If we are going to create change I need all your help,” Raisman wrote.

Douglas retweeted it with the comment, “however it is our responsibility as women to dress modestly and be classy. dressing in a provocative/sexual way entices the wrong crowd.” She later deleted the tweet.

Douglas later apologized after Simone Biles, her teammate and the Olympic all-around champion in Rio, tweeted, “shocks me that I’m seeing this but it doesn’t surprise me… honestly seeing this brings me to tears bc as your teammate I expected more from you &  to support her.  I support you Aly & all the other women out there! STAY STRONG”

Douglas wrote another lengthy post on Tuesday, saying in part, “I didn’t view my comments as victim shaming because I know that no matter what you wear, it NEVER gives anyone the right to harass or abuse you. … 

“I wholeheartedly support my teammates for coming forward with what happened to them.”

USA Gymnastics did not immediately respond to an email from USA TODAY Sports seeking comment on Tuesday evening.

Nassar was USA Gymnastics’ team physician for nearly 20 years, beginning in 1996. USA Gymnastics fired him in the summer of 2015, but the federation waited five weeks before alerting the FBI.

According to the Lansing State Journal, which is part of the USA TODAY Network, more than 140 women have alleged sexual abuse by Nassar, under the guise of medical treatment.

Through his attorneys, Nassar, who worked for decades at Michigan State University as a team doctor, has denied any wrongdoing.

Nassar pleaded guilty to federal child pornography charges in July, and he faces 22 to 27 years in prison when he’s sentenced on Dec. 7. He also faces 33 charges of criminal sexual conduct in Michigan and is expected to plead guilty in separate cases Wednesday and next week.

In her biography, Fierce, Raisman, a three-time Olympic gold medalist and captain of the past two U.S. teams, said Nassar gained her trust by bringing her desserts or gifts. It wasn’t until after she was interviewed by a USA Gymnastics investigator in 2015 that Raisman, now 23, realized Nassar had abused her.

“He was a doctor. Who am I as a teenager to go against him?” Raisman told USA TODAY Sports. “Everyone always said he was the best. You’re brainwashed to believe this person is good. As a young teenager, your mind is pure. You don’t think someone can do that to you.”

Raisman has declined to detail the abuse but said it started when she was 15 at a meet in Australia.  

Since coming forward, Raisman has been pushing for change in the sport. She has been openly critical of the way USA Gymnastics has handled complaints against Nassar as well as other allegations of sexual abuse.

“I just don’t think they get it. I think they’re in denial,” Raisman told USA TODAY Sports. “I’m very serious when I say it’s not acceptable what happened. I’m not confident they will be able to handle it with the people that are still there.”

The Indianapolis Star, also part of the USA TODAY Network, has reported more than 360 cases in which gymnasts have accused coaches of sexual transgressions over 20 years.

Maroney came forward last month in a Twitter post as part of the #MeToo campaign, saying Nassar abused her under the guise of medical treatment.

“It seemed whenever and wherever this man could find the chance, I was ‘treated,’” Maroney wrote.

“People should know that this is not just happening in Hollywood,” Maroney wrote. “This is happening everywhere. Wherever there is a position of power, there seems to be potential for abuse. I had a dream to go to the Olympics, and the things that I had to endure to get there were unnecessary and disgusting.”

Earlier this month, USA Gymnastics announced that it hired Kerry Perry, formerly the vice president of business development at Learfield Communications, as its new CEO. She is expected to start on Dec. 1.

Perry replaces Steve Penny, who resigned as CEO in March under pressure from the U.S. Olympic Committee in the wake of the sex abuse scandal.

Former federal prosecutor Deborah Daniels, hired by USA Gymnastics, found the organization needed a “complete cultural change” so safety and well-being of athletes was a greater priority than world and Olympic medals.

Daniels made 70 recommendations, which USA Gymnastics has adopted and is in the process of implementing. Some have already been addressed with the opening of the U.S. Center for Safe Sport, an independent agency created by the USOC to handle sexual misconduct cases in the Olympic movement.

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