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Aly Raisman blasts USA Gymnastics for 'victim shaming'

by Tracy Connor /  / Updated 

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Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman unleashed a blistering attack on USA Gymnastics on Wednesday, accusing the organization of "victim shaming" in a statement about a sexual abuse scandal.

"Your statements are hurtful," Raisman tweeted. "If you did not believe that I & others were abused than why pressure & manipulate us? WE WERE MOLESTED BY A MONSTER U ENABLED 2 THRIVE FOR DECADES. You are 100% responsible."

Raisman revealed last month that she is one of more than 135 girls and women allegedly molested by former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, who has pleaded guilty to 10 counts of sexual assault and federal pornography charges.

This week, elite gymnast Maggie Nichols, a former national team member, said she was the first athlete to report Nassar to USA Gymnastics — in the summer of 2015, more than a year before allegations against the sports medicine doctor were made public.

Nichols and her attorney blasted USA Gymnastics for not responding faster to her report and not doing more to ensure more patients wouldn't be victimized. USA Gymnastics admits it waited five weeks to alert law enforcement and didn't notify Michigan State University, where he had his practice.

In response to Nichols' denunciation, USA Gymnastics issued an extraordinary statement on Tuesday, saying that after its private investigator interviewed Nichols and Raisman, it did not have a "reasonable suspicion" they had been molested by Nassar.

It wasn't until the private eye spoke to a third gymnast, believed to be Raisman's "Fierce Five" teammate McKayla Maroney, that USA Gymnastics went to the FBI, the statement said. The organization said it didn't warn MSU or the public that Nassar, still practicing medicine, was a suspected predator because it believed the FBI did not want it to speak to anyone about the investigation.

Raisman, who told her story on TODAY last month, was infuriated by the response.

"STOP VICTIM SHAMING," she tweeted at USA Gymnastics, which is the national governing body for the sport and chooses the national and Olympic teams.

USA Gymnastics had no immediate response to Raisman's tweet. The organization has applauded gymnasts who have come forward to accuse Nassar — including another 2012 medalist, Gabby Douglas — while insisting protecting athletes is its top priority.

The statement USA Gymnastics put out this week was its most defensive since the scandal over Nassar erupted in August 2016 when the Indianapolis Star revealed two former patients had accused him of abusing them under the guise of invasive treatments.

Nichols said Nassar began abusing her when she was 15 and attending a training camp at the famed Karolyi ranch. It came to light when the coach overheard her talking to another athlete about the doctor's "treatments."

Nichols, who missed out on the 2016 Olympics because of an injury, thanked fellow gymnasts on Wednesday for their support.

Nassar, meanwhile, is awaiting sentencing next week in Michigan state court for assaulting 10 girls. He's already been sentenced to 60 years in prison for possession of child pornography — a charge that Maroney has said makes her terrified there are images of her being abused circulating in pedophile circles.

Nassar has pleaded guilty in both the state and federal cases. His attorneys have declined to comment, citing a gag order in place. He still faces more than 100 lawsuits.

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