Gabby Douglas, the Olympic gymnast who was criticized last week for placing some of the onus on women to avoid sexual harassment, apologized again on Tuesday and said that she, too, had been abused by a team doctor.
Douglas, 21, drew angry responses on Friday after she wrote on Twitter that it was a woman’s responsibility “to dress modestly” so as not to attract “the wrong crowd.” She later apologized for that comment, noting that “regardless of what you wear, abuse under any circumstance is never acceptable.”
In a statement she posted on Instagram four days later, Douglas reiterated that “no matter what you wear, it NEVER gives anyone the right to harass or abuse you.”
Then, in drawing an analogy, Douglas suggested she was one of the many gymnasts who contend that they had been abused by Lawrence G. Nassar, a former team doctor for USA Gymnastics.
“It would be like saying that because of the leotards we wore, it was our fault that we were abused by Larry Nassar,” Douglas wrote. “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 very painful.”
Responding to an email from The New York Times on Tuesday, Jeff Raymond, Douglas’ publicist, said that through her Instagram post, “Gabby is confirming that she too was a victim of Larry Nassar.” He would not detail the abuse Douglas alluded to in her statement.
In addition to Douglas, at least six other former members of the United States’ national gymnastics team have publicly said they were abused by Nassar: Jeanette Antolin, who competed at the 1999 world championships; Jamie Dantzscher, who won a bronze team medal at the 2000 Olympics; Jessica Howard, a three-time national champion in rhythmic gymnastics; Mattie Larson, a silver medalist at the 2010 world championships; McKayla Maroney, a star of the 2012 Olympics; and Aly Raisman, who won six medals at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.
More than 140 women have said that Nassar had touched them inappropriately during medical appointments.
Nassar is in jail in Michigan, facing 22 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct involving at least seven victims. He has so far denied the charges.
But on Tuesday, The Associated Press reported that Nassar would plead guilty to multiple charges of sexual assault and face at least 25 years in prison. The AP said Nassar has a court hearing scheduled for Wednesday in Michigan’s Ingham County.
Douglas had been responding to a statement made by Raisman on Friday when she made the controversial remark about how women should dress and behave.
Raisman had said on Twitter that women dressing “sexy” does not entitle men to shame or sexually abuse them.
Douglas’ initial response — in which she said “dressing in a provocative/sexual way entices the wrong crowd” — drew rebukes from many, some of whom accused the gymnast of blaming the victims of sexual harassment for the abuse.
Simone Biles, the Olympic gymnast and former teammate of Douglas, was among those who publicly criticized Douglas and expressed support for Raisman.
In her statement on Tuesday, Douglas insisted that she did not support “victim shaming/blaming in any way, shape or form!”
“Please forgive me for not being more responsible with how I handled the situation,” she wrote, adding, “I have learned from this and I’m determined to be even better.”
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