NBC Olympics. The Fierce Five celebrate Olympic glory after winning gold in the team all around competition.
The 2012 Summer Olympics in London was a time of glory for the American Women’s Gymnastics team. The Fierce Five, Gabby Douglas, Jordyn Wieber, Aly Raisman, Kyla Ross, and McKayla Maroney, won gold in the team all-around competition. Gabby Douglas won gold in the individual all-around. Additionally, Aly Raisman won gold in floor exercise and bronze in balance beam and McKayla Maroney won silver on vault.
Despite the team’s overwhelming success, Maroney was fighting a battle all-too-familiar to female gymnasts across the country. USA Gymnastics team doctor, Larry Nassar, has been accused and pleaded guilty to molesting minors in the sport including Maroney.
Recently, new reports have come out saying that USA Gymnastics paid Maroney to keep quiet about the abuse. Maroney has filed a lawsuit against Michigan State University, the US Olympic Committee, and Nassar.
According to NBC News, John Manly, Maroney’s attorney, has described the confidentiality agreement as “hypocritical, immoral, and in this case illegal.” USA Gymnastics had employed Nassar for 20 years before firing him after complaints from athletes in June 2015.
Allegations of Nassar’s abuse had not been made public until August 2016 and since then, over 140 athletes have filed complaints. Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in federal prison for pornography and has pleaded guilty to at least 10 counts of sexual assault.
The future of USA Gymnastics falls even more into question after over 90 of Nassar’s victims read letters to him in front of the court. Wieber and Raisman were among the victims confronting Nassar.
“To believe in the future of gymnastics is to believe in change. But how are we to believe in change when these organizations aren’t even willing to acknowledge the problem? It’s easy to put out statements talking about how athlete care is the highest priority. But they’ve been saying that for years, and all the while, this nightmare was happening...They make it easier to move away from the problem and enable bad things to continue to happen. And even now after all that has happened, USA Gymnastics has the nerve to say the very same things it has said all along,” Raisman read in her testimony here.
The countless gymnasts coming forward with stories of abuse are not the first. According to Huffington Post, 321,500 people fall victim to rape and sexual assault each year in the United States.
This pop culture epidemic has been exposing perpetrators more than ever after the viral hashtag, #MeToo, sprang onto the Twitter scene. Women and men who have been assaulted or harassed have used the hashtag to spread awareness and information about sexual assault.