Olympic gold medalist Nastia Liukin praised her fellow gymnasts on Monday for speaking out about the abuse they experieneced from Larry Nassar, calling them her “role models” after more than 80 girls and women opened up about the former team doctor's abuse.
In a blog post titled “To The Gymnastics Community,” Liukin said she was “completely shocked” after hearing about Nassar’s “disgusting crimes." Liukin added that she was left appalled and disgusted by what he had done to athletes.
“[Nassar’s] actions and assaults against my teammates, friends and other women are appalling and disgusting and I am so sorry they had to go through it alone,” Liukin said, adding that her teammates’ courage inspired her.
The 28-year-old gymnast then apologized to people who mistook her silence for lack of support for her teammates who suffered abuse at the hands of Nassar. She recalled how she was “caught off guard” and “stumbled” through an interview when she first spoke about the scandal.
“I realized I gave the impression I was not fully supportive of my teammates. I stumbled through my words because I couldn’t even begin to process my thoughts, let alone my words, about his abhorrent and criminal actions,” she added.
Liukin then pledged all proceeds for the Nastia Liukin Cup, her upcoming gymnastics competition, to be donated to an organization supporting victims of sexual abuse.
“My hope is this is the beginning of positive change,” she said. “I am here for not just these young athletes but for all young women who want and deserve to feel and to be safe.”
Liukin also revealed her father is the coach of the Women’s National Team and working to “change the culture and environment of this program.”
“To all the women who have come forward: you are my role models, my heroes, and I will forever respect you and be inspired by your bravery and commitment to making our world a better and safer place,” she said.
More than 80 victims, including Olympic gymnasts Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney, testified against Nassar, describing the impact of being assaulted by him. Nassar admitted molesting athletes during treatment when he was employed by Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics.
Nassar has already been sentenced to 60 years in prison for child pornography crimes. He faces a minimum prison sentence of 25 to 40 years in the molestation case.