Aly Raisman suing U.S. Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics over sexual abuse

Tom Schad
Aly Raisman

Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman is suing the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics in a California court, alleging that the USOC "was aware, at the highest levels of its organization" that former team doctor Larry Nassar sexually abused U.S. gymnasts.

Raisman filed the lawsuit in Santa Clara Superior Court earlier this week, according to online court records. The 23-year-old is one of the more than 260 women and girls who have publicly accused Nassar of sexual abuse, and she has called for an independent investigation of the USOC and USA Gymnastics. 

In a statement released by her attorney's office Friday, Raisman said she could not "wait any longer for these organizations to do the right thing."

"My highest priority has been to push for change, so future generations of athletes will be safer," Raisman said in the statement. "It has become painfully clear that these organizations have no intention of properly addressing this problem. 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. Meanwhile, thousands of young athletes continue to train and compete every day in this same broken system.

"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."

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News of Raisman's lawsuit came two days after Michigan gymnast Jacob Moore became the first male to accuse Nassar of sexual abuse in a separate suit.

USA Gymnastics declined to comment on Raisman and Moore's complaints but issued a statement to USA TODAY Sports and other media outlets Friday afternoon.

“USA Gymnastics supports our athletes, like Aly Raisman, Jacob Moore and others, who have shared their experiences with abuse, and we are very sorry that any athlete has been hurt by the despicable crimes of Larry Nassar," the statement reads. "USA Gymnastics first became aware that an athlete had expressed concern about a procedure by Larry Nassar in June 2015, which led USA Gymnastics to report Nassar to the FBI and dismiss him from further involvement with USA Gymnastics.

"USA Gymnastics is committed to doing everything we can to prevent this from happening again by making bold decisions and holding ourselves to the highest standards of care. We need the gymnastics community to join with us to accomplish this for both the young men and women who are pursuing their gymnastics dreams today and to honor those who have gone before."

The USOC did not immediately respond to a request for comment from USA TODAY Sports on Friday morning.

Raisman's lawsuit, which also lists former USAG president Steve Penny and former board chairman Paul Parilla as defendants, claims that the USOC knew or should have known that Nassar had abused gymnasts and could have been prevented. Raisman alleges that "personnel and/or employment records ... reflect numerous incidents of inappropriate sexual contact and conduct" by Nassar, and that he was disciplined by USAG and USOC for taking photographs of young female gymnasts.

The lawsuit further claims that the USOC and USAG did not effectively implement safety policies and procedures nor inform Michigan State, which also employed Nassar as a doctor, about his misconduct.

"As part of Defendants' conspiratorial and fraudulent attempt to hide Nassar's propensity to sexually abuse children, and prior sexual misconduct with children, from public scrutiny and investigation, Defendants implemented various measures designed to make Nassar's conduct harder to detect," the lawsuit alleges.

Nassar is serving a 60-year sentence at a federal prison in Tucson, Ariz., on child pornography charges. The 54-year-old also pleaded guilty to sexual assault charges in two Michigan counties earlier this year and was handed concurrent sentences of 40 to 175 years and 40 to 125 years in prison.

McKayla Maroney, another member of the "Fierce Five" that won team gold at the 2012 London Olympics, has also filed suit against USA Gymnastics and the USOC. She alleged in December that USAG paid her in an attempt to prevent her from publicly accusing Nassar of sexual abuse.

John Manly, the attorney representing both Maroney and Raisman in their respective lawsuits, said in a statement that the USOC and USAG conspired to silence victims and cover up Nassar's widespread abuse.

"A simple fact is this: If USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee had followed their own bylaws, policies and procedures designed to protect children from sexual abuse, Ms. Raisman never would have met him, never would have been 'treated' by him and never would have been molested by him," Manly said in part of the statement.

Contact Tom Schad at tschad@usatoday.com or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.