Three-time Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas has become the third prominent American gymnast to claim that she was sexually abused by former US team doctor Larry Nassar.
Douglas’ allegation follows statements by former USA Gymnastics teammates McKayla Maroney and Aly Raisman who claimed that Nassar abused them during their careers.
The 21-year-old Douglas recently drew fierce criticism on social media for her response to a tweet by Raisman which said the way a woman dresses does not give a man the right to sexually abuse her.
Douglas replied to the tweet, which was subsequently deleted, saying women should “dress modestly and be classy … dressing in a provocative/sexual way entices the wrong crowd.”
In a lengthy message posted on Instagram, Tuesday, Douglas apologized for those comments before going on to allege that she too had been abused by Nassar.
“I didn’t view my comments as victim shaming because I know that no matter what you wear, it NEVER gives anyone the right to harass or abuse you. It would be like saying that because of the leotards we wore, it was our fault we were abused by Larry Nassar,” Douglas said.
“I didn’t publicly share my experiences as well as many other things because for years we were conditioned to stay silent and honestly some things were extremely painful. I wholeheartedly support my teammates for coming forward with what happened to them.”
Janice Lee, a publicist at Rogers and Cowan who represent Douglas, confirmed to CNN via email that the 21-year-old was stating she was also one of Nassar’s victims.
Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics team physician and former Michigan State University associate professor, was arrested in November 2016 and accused of sexually assaulting female minors throughout his career.
He also pleaded guilty to federal charges relating to child pornography in July 2017.
On Wednesday, Nassar pleaded guilty to seven counts of first degree criminal sexual conduct charges, some pertaining to victims under the age of 13.
CNN contacted Nassar’s legal team via email for a response to the latest allegations by Douglas but they declined to comment. The Judge in the case has issued a gag order in the case.
In October, Maroney claimed on Twitter that Nassar’s abuse had started when she was 13 years old and continued during the London Games in 2012 where she won a gold and silver medal.
“It seemed whenever and wherever this man could find the chance, I was ‘treated.’ It happened in London before my team and I won the gold medal, and it happened before I won silver,” Maroney, now 21, said in a statement on her official Twitter account.
Maroney is one of a number of women who have come forward with stories of sexual harassment or assault under the “Me Too” campaign in recent days.
Earlier this month, Raisman, who captained the so-called “Fierce Five” team in both London and at last year’s Rio Games, revealed she had also suffered abuse and called for major changes to the way USA Gymnastics is governed.
“Why are we looking at why didn’t the girls speak up?” Raisman told CBS’s “60 Minutes” program.
“Why not look at what about the culture? What did USA Gymnastics do, and Larry Nassar do, to manipulate these girls so much that they are so afraid to speak up?”
In a statement provided to CNN, Wednesday, USA Gymnastics praised Douglas, Maroney and Raisman for speaking out.
“USA Gymnastics understands that sharing one’s personal story of abuse requires courage and fortitude,” the statement read.
“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.”