Larry Nassar, the USA Gymnastics team’s former doctor, was sentenced 175 years in prison last year for sexually abusing hundreds of athletes under the guise of medical treatment. During his trials that started in late 2017, the judge allowed more than a 100 of his assault victims to read testimonies against him. Nassar had asked the judge to not permit all the women to give testimonies because, as he wrote in a six-page letter, it would be emotionally damaging for him to listen to their recounts of his actions. With Nassar in prison, the gymnasts on the USA Gymnastics team want the governing body of the organization to investigate why these events took place, and take necessary measures to ensure they never happen again.
While the trial was going on, the USA Gymnastics’ CEO, Steve Penny, resigned due to public shame and embarrassment. Therefore, Kerry Perry was appointed as the new CEO and President of the USA Gymnastics team. As one of her first actions as the CEO, Perry publicly apologized for the abuses the athletes endured and promised to make policies that would protect athletes. One of these policies was the Safe Sport Policy that was implemented in June. The policy defines more types of abuses and holds employees accountable to address all reports of abuse.
However, many of the gymnasts that were abused by Nassar believed that the governing board was not taking necessary measures. In fact, Aly Raisman, one of the athletes abused by Nassar, tweeted, “We must investigate to figure out the many flaws in @USAGym system. We must understand how this happened to make sure it never occurs again. This problem is bigger than Penny and Nassar. The system has to change so that athletes are safe. Enablers need to be held accountable.”
Simone Biles, who is also a survivor of Nassar’s abuse, also called out Kerry Perry, asking her to be more vocal about the steps taken in the aftermath of Nassar’s trials.
Biles said on August 15th that she “isn’t sure if the national governing body is making progress in fixing the systemic problems that allowed Larry Nassar to prey on athletes. Hopefully it’s going in the right direction, but nobody can know until Kerry Perry speaks up.”
Emilee Herrmann (12), is interested in gymnastics and follows the news about gymnasts. When asked about Biles’ comments, she said, “Simone has been doing gymnastics for a long time, and when there is something going wrong in her sport that she cares about, she should be able to call it out.”