At a recent Senate hearing, U.S.A. Gymnastics told lawmakers that the organization is “athlete-centric” now and that it is easier to report sexual abuse.
That statement did not ring true for Ashton Locklear, a world-champion gymnast who aspires to compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. In an interview, Locklear publicly claimed that nothing has changed in terms of the culture of U.S.A. Gymnastics and that she personally knows that athletes are still afraid to speak out.
Locklear is one of hundreds of victims who were sexually abused for years by the team’s former physician Dr. Larry Nassar. Because he has no chance of parole for 90+ years, Nassar is currently serving what is virtually a life sentence in prison for charges of child pornography and sexual assault of minors. Read more about his sexual misconduct convictions in our earlier blog.
Gymnastics Athletes Still at Risk for Abuse
In Locklear’s interview, she maintained that athletes are still at risk for sexual, emotional and non-physical abuse, even though the U.S.A. Gymnastics organization claims that it is improving its protection of athletes. Locklear claimed that she reported emotional and physical abuse by her coach last year to U.S.A. Gymnastics and to the U.S. Center for SafeSport, but nothing was done.
According to the gymnast, athletes are terrified and keep silent because of the power that the coaches have over them. When Locklear told her coach that Nassar made her feel uncomfortable, he verbally stopped her and told her not to be disrespectful.
Locklear spoke out in late 2017 about the sexual abuse by Nassar, actions which she thought were legal and medically necessary treatments, in order to make the sport a safer place for younger athletes. But without significant change, the athletes remain vulnerable to many types of mistreatment including sexual abuse.
Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman, another Nassar victim, concurred with Locklear’s views when speaking at the hearing. Raisman stated that there is no real accountability from either U.S.A. Gymnastics or from the U.S. Olympic Committee.
This latest hearing in the aftermath of the systemic abuse of athletes by Nassar was held by the Consumer Protection subcommittee of the Commerce Committee. Witnesses included the president of U.S.A. Gymnastics, interim president of Michigan State where Nassar served as an osteopathic physician, and the acting CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee.
More than 80 abuse victims met with the chairman of the Commerce subcommittee as well. The chairman stated that members of the committee as well as all of Congress must do everything possible to ensure that the abuse behavior never occurs again and, if it does occur, that there is a viable reporting process.
Let Us Know if You Are a Victim of Any Type of Sexual Abuse
If you or a family member has experienced sexual assault or sexual harassment of any kind or has been injured in an accident or by any other type of personal injury, or needs help with any employment discrimination or family law issue, please contact the Law Offices of Paul S. Foreman, P.C. immediately. We have the right experience to get the optimal results for your case. Please call us for a free consultation. Attorney Paul S. Foreman, personal injury attorney in Essex County, will fight to secure justice for you and your family. You can reach us at 973-315-3232 or contact us via the website.