(AP/WISH) – Olympic champion gymnast Gabby Douglas says she is among the group of athletes sexually abused by a former team doctor.
Douglas, the 2012 Olympic all-around champion and a three-time gold medalist, wrote in an Instagram post Tuesday that she waited so long to reveal the abuse by Larry Nassar because she was part of a group “conditioned to stay silent.”
Douglas included the revelation in an apology for comments made on social media last week that suggested women dress modestly to help prevent abuse. Douglas said her comments, which she later deleted, were taken out of context.
“I didn’t view my comments as victim shaming because I know no matter what you wear, it NEVER gives anyone the right to harass or abuse you,” Douglas wrote.
The 21-year-old Douglas is the latest high-profile gymnast to come forward against Nassar, who spent nearly two decades as the national team doctor for USA Gymnastics before being fired in 2015. Two-time Olympic teammate Aly Raisman wrote about alleged abuse by Nassar in her autobiography “Fierce,” released earlier this month. Two-time Olympic medalist McKayla Maroney disclosed abuse by Nassar in October.
Following the latest allegations from Douglas, USA Gymnastics released the following statement:
“USA Gymnastics understands that sharing one’s personal story of abuse requires courage and fortitude. We admire the strength shown by Gabby and her teammates in speaking out publicly to hold a predator accountable. The conduct of which Larry Nassar is accused is appalling, and we are very sorry that any athlete has been harmed during her or his gymnastics career.
Our athletes are our priority. We want to work together with Gabby and all of our athletes, members, parents and professionals to promote an environment of empowerment that encourages speaking up, especially on difficult topics like abuse, and we are committed to further developing a culture that has safe sport as a top priority throughout the organization.
The organization has taken specific and concrete steps to prevent future abuse by adopting the USA Gymnastics Safe Sport Policy; hiring a new president and chief executive officer who emphasizes empowerment throughout the organization; building a safe sport department that is developing a comprehensive education plan for members; and creating an implementation plan for the recommendations made by an experienced, former federal prosecutor who carefully examined the organization’s past policies. The Safe Sport Policy strengthens policies that include mandatory reporting, defines six types of misconduct, sets standards to prohibit grooming behavior and prevent inappropriate interaction, and establishes greater accountability.”
Nassar, 54, is accused of molesting several girls while working for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University. He’s facing similar charges in a neighboring Michigan county and lawsuits filed by more than 125 women and girls.
Nassar will plead guilty to multiple charges of sexual assault and face at least 25 years in prison, a person with knowledge of the agreement said Tuesday.
The person was not authorized to publicly discuss the agreement ahead of a Wednesday court hearing for Nassar in Michigan’s Ingham County and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
USA Gymnastics launched an independent review of its policies in the wake of the allegations against Nassar. In June, the gymnastics board adopted the new USA Gymnastics SafeSport Policy that replaced the previous policy. Key updates include mandatory reporting, defining six types of misconduct, setting standards to prohibit grooming behavior, preventing inappropriate interaction and establishing accountability.
The organization also hired Kerry Perry as the organization’s new president and CEO. Perry replaces Steve Penny, who resigned under pressure in March.