Raisman misplaced 'trust' in US doctor

QUESTIONING HIS MOTIVES: "We were told he is the best doctor. He's the United States Olympic doctor and the USA Gymnastics doctor, and we were very lucky we were able to see him." - ALY RAISMAN, on revering Larry Nassar.
QUESTIONING HIS MOTIVES: "We were told he is the best doctor. He's the United States Olympic doctor and the USA Gymnastics doctor, and we were very lucky we were able to see him." - ALY RAISMAN, on revering Larry Nassar.

NEW YORK • Three-time Olympic gymnastics champion Aly Raisman revealed she did not realise at first that she had been treated inappropriately by a doctor accused of having sexually assaulted female gymnasts.

Speaking on the 60 Minutes television programme, the 23-year-old said she wanted to educate young gymnasts that it was sometimes difficult to understand the warning signs of sexual abuse.

When first interviewed by an investigator hired by USA Gymnastics in 2015, she did not immediately accuse Larry Nassar of inappropriate or illegal behaviour while he was the US team doctor.

"I was just really innocent. I didn't really know. You know, you don't think that of someone. You know, so I just, I trusted him," said Raisman, who says she was 15 when she was first treated by Nassar.

Nassar has pleaded not guilty to charges of sexual assault. He is in jail awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to federal child pornography charges. Nassar's attorneys, Matt Newburg and Shannon Smith, have each said that they had to maintain discretion due to a gag order.

Raisman said she felt awkward about the doctor's behaviour but she thought he was a caring person.

"I said, 'Well, his touching makes me uncomfortable, but he's so nice to me'... and 'I don't think he does it on purpose because, I think he cares about me'.

"I didn't know anything differently. We were told he is the best doctor. He's the United States Olympic doctor and the USA Gymnastics doctor, and we were very lucky we were able to see him.

"I was in denial. You don't want to let yourself believe (you are a) victim of sexual abuse."

It was only later that she questioned his motives and behaviour.

"He would buy me little things. So I really thought he was a nice person," she said.

"I want people to know just because someone is nice to you and just because everyone is saying they're the best person, it does not make it OK for them to ever make you uncomfortable."

She is the second member of the "Fierce Five" gymnasts, who won a team gold at the 2012 London Olympics, to allege abuse by Nassar after McKayla Maroney.

According to 60 Minutes, more than 130 women, many of them former athletes, have filed civil lawsuits alleging that Nassar sexually abused them under the guise of treating them for hip, back and other athletic injuries.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 14, 2017, with the headline 'Raisman misplaced 'trust' in US doctor'. Print Edition | Subscribe