Aly Raisman Skeptical US Olympics Investigation Will Be Independent or Comprehensive
By Saba Hamedy
February 8, 2018
Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman is calling for a thorough, publicly-released investigation into the sexual abuse of gymnasts, expressing doubt that current probes launched in the wake of the Larry Nassar scandal go far enough.
Raisman is among more than 200 women who have publicly come forward with stories of abuse at the hands of Nassar, a former team physician. The disgraced doctor was sentenced Monday in Michigan to 40 to 125 years in prison.
"If we were that successful while we were being molested, wouldn't we have been more successful if we had the right doctor that actually helped heal our injuries, that didn't traumatize us? If we had people around us that genuinely wanted to help us?" she told CNN's Jake Tapper in an interview that aired Thursday on "The Lead."
The interview aired the day before the start of the 2018 Winter Olympics amid uproar around the way the US Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics handled the Nassar matter.
"I met a lot of incredible women and young girls ... it was just really incredible how even though we didn't know each other, we just felt an instant connection to each other because we've all been through something so horrible," Raisman said, recalling her experience testifying in the courtroom against Nassar. "And we all feel let down by the organization ... I think we all deserve to have answers. We've already all been through enough."
Recent new reporting shows the USOC, under Scott Blackmun, was alerted to the abuse as early as 2015 but failed to act on the allegations. The USOC declined CNN's request for an interview, but issued a statement, saying, "we have consistently said we learned in 2015 of a doctor potentially having abused an athlete and that was reported to the FBI. That's what is supposed to happen."
The USOC has called for an investigation by an "independent third party to examine how an abuse of this proportion could have gone undetected for so long." USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University, where Nassar was also employed, also face a number of investigations and lawsuits.
In a recent letter to USOC staff, CEO Blackmun wrote, "we have never been, and will not be, party to any effort to conceal or keep confidential allegations or instances of sexual abuse."
Raisman said the last time she heard from Blackmun was in August, when he emailed her to say congratulations on her gold medal.
"So I know he has my email," she told Tapper. "So why I haven't heard from him now? That just shows he cares more about gold medals than he does about my well-being or anyone else's."
"It's devastating," she added, regarding Blackmun's lack of outreach. "I don't really understand why he hasn't reached out to any of us. You know, if he really cared and really wanted to get to the bottom of this, he would have reached out a long time ago. I think all he cares about is medals, reputation and money."
Raisman said former Olympic coach John Geddert might have known about sexual abuse by Nassar as early as 2011.
"We would talk about it amongst ourselves," she said. "And one of my teammates described in graphic detail what Nassar had done to her the night before. And John Geddert was in the car with us and he just didn't say anything."
The exchange happened in 2011, five years before Nassar was caught, Raisman said. Geddert's lawyer did not respond to CNN's request for comment about the car discussion.
"I don't know what he (Geddert) did or didn't do from there," she recalled. "I know he didn't ask us any questions, but that is just why we need the full, independent investigation to get to the bottom of who knew about this."
Geddert, who coached the Olympic Gold medal team known as "The Fierce Five," has since retired. Law enforcement officials in Michigan said they are investigating complaints against him.
"Everyone has to care," Raisman said. "It's just unacceptable to me. This should have never ever happened. You know, if one adult listened or had the character to act ... we would have never met him."
Raisman cited the story as an example of yet another part of the Nassar scandal that remains uninvestigated -- which she fears will continue if the US Olympic Committee doesn't begin a truly independent investigation with full access to all emails and data, one that will be released the public.
The abuse has taken a dramatic toll on her day-to-day life.
"I would say I'm very tired a lot," she told Tapper. "I'm just really trying to listen to my body. Some days, I feel good and I'll do a workout. Other days, I'll wake up and I just -- I can't even get a 10-minute walk, and that's crazy for me to say being an Olympic athlete -- but I just think people need to understand the stress and trauma. It is so exhausting."
The Nassar trial has inspired political action from lawmakers on the hill.
On Wednesday, a bipartisan group of senators -- led by Republican Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa and Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire -- came forward to issue a harsh rebuke of the USOC and USA Gymnastics and called for a special committee to investigate their handling of Nassar case.
Ernst and Shaheen first called to establish a Senate committee in late January, and their formal introduction of the resolution follows a letter from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, petitioning the Justice Department to open a criminal probe into the US Olympic Committee.
Ernst, Shaheen and Gillibrand have also called for Blackmun to resign.
CNN's Jennifer Hansler contributed to this report.