USA Gym abuse settlement offensive: Raisman

Simone Biles performs on the beam in Stuttgart, Germany, on Oct 13, 2019. Simone Biles would be among 66 gymnasts to receive the top-level settlement amount of US$1.25 million.
Simone Biles performs on the beam in Stuttgart, Germany, on Oct 13, 2019. Simone Biles would be among 66 gymnasts to receive the top-level settlement amount of US$1.25 million.PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES • Olympic gold medallist Aly Raisman lashed out on Monday night at a settlement put forward by USA Gymnastics for the Larry Nassar abuse scandal, describing the proposals as "offensive" to survivors of the jailed team doctor's crimes.

In an interview with NBC television's Today morning news show, she accused the organisation of attempting to prevent release of details which would show how he was able to abuse athletes for years.

Her criticism followed reports last month that a tiered settlement system would be used to pay damages to Nassar's victims, with payments ranging from US$82,550 to US$1.25 million (S$115,000 to S$1.74 million).

However, attorneys for the hundreds of women who were abused have said the deal is insufficient, arguing it releases too many parties from further claims, including the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee and former USA Gymnastics chief Steve Penny.

"It shows they don't care," Raisman said. "They're just trying to push it under the rug and hoping people will forget when they watch the Olympics this summer.

"I personally would like to see USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic Committee release all their documents and data because they are not doing that. They're not answering our questions."

The 25-year-old, a member of the United States women's team which won gold at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Games, has been backed by former teammate Simone Biles, who has also voiced dismay over the proposed settlement.

In a series of Twitter posts on Saturday, the four-time Olympic champion and medal favourite at the upcoming Tokyo Games spoke of her anguish at the ongoing wrangling, accusing USA Gymnastics and US Olympic chiefs of failing to conduct an independent investigation into the scandal. She said: "Shouldn't people be held accountable? I'm torn at this point."

Both Raisman and Biles have said they were abused by Nassar, 56, who was jailed for life in 2018 for systematically abusing girls over a span of two decades.

 
 

The retired Raisman, however, is proud of how her former teammates have soldiered on despite the settlement controversy.

"They're doing an amazing job," she said. "I am heartbroken this is still going on."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 04, 2020, with the headline 'USA Gym abuse settlement offensive: Raisman'. Subscribe