USOC Writes Open Letter to Team USA Athletes After Larry Nassar's Sentencing

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 24, 2018

Former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar is about to be led away following his sentencing hearing in Lansing, Michigan, January 16, 2018.
Victims of sexual abuse by Nassar delivered gut-wrenching emotional testimony at the court hearing which could see him sentenced to prison for life. Nassar has been accused of molesting more than 100 female athletes during the three decades he worked with USA Gymnastics and at Michigan State University. / AFP PHOTO / Geoff Robins        (Photo credit should read GEOFF ROBINS/AFP/Getty Images)
GEOFF ROBINS/Getty Images

The United States Olympic Committee wrote an open letter to the athletes representing the U.S. at the Olympic Games in the wake of Larry Nassar's receiving a prison sentence of up to 175 years for sexual assault and abuse. 

"The purpose of this message is to tell all of Nassar’s victims and survivors, directly, how incredibly sorry we are," the USOC wrote in the letter. "We have said it in other contexts, but we have not been direct enough with you. We are sorry for the pain caused by this terrible man, and sorry that you weren’t afforded a safe opportunity to pursue your sports dreams. The Olympic family is among those that have failed you."

The USOC also outlined steps it will take to ensure it can avoid a similar pattern of abuse from happening again. The committee said it "must change the culture of the sport" and will improve "access to testing, treatment and counseling" for assault victims.

According to the New York Times, Nassar will serve 40 to 175 years in prison. He pleaded guilty to seven counts of criminal sexual conduct, and more than 150 women had accused him of assaulting them, per CNN's Meg Wagner and Amanda Wills.

Both the USOC and USA Gymnastics have received criticism for failing to stop the abuse perpetrated by Nassar.

Shawn Johnson East, who won a gold medal in the 2008 Summer Olympics and helped Team USA earn silver in the team competition, said she would steer her child away from participating in gymnastics after those in power failed to protect the gymnasts who were abused by Nassar.

USA Gymnastics announced Monday the resignation of three members of its board of directors, which USA Gymnastics CEO Kerry Perry called a step to help "effectively move forward in implementing change within our organization."

After USOC CEO Scott Blackmun called the resignations a step in the right direction in an official statement, three-time Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman shared a statement in which she called out the USOC for what she believed was inaction on the USOC's part to address Nassar's abuse earlier:

During the sentencing hearing for Nassar, prosecutor Angela Povilaitis read a statement from 2012 gold medalist McKayla Maroney. Maroney said Nassar "abused my trust" and "abused my body," per Yahoo Sports' Dan Wetzel.

"A simple fact is this, if Michigan State University, USA Gymnastics or the U.S. Olympic committee had paid attention to any of the red flags on his behavior I would never have met him, I would never have been treated by him, I would never have been abused by him," she said.

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