Heslam: Despite calls for boycott, USA Gymnastics heads to Boston
January 19, 2018
By Jessica Heslam - Boston Herald
One by one, the courageous gymnasts sexually abused by disgraced, ex-USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar confronted the predator in a Michigan courtroom this week as a judge prepares to sentence him to life behind bars.
Meanwhile, the scandal-plagued organization that harbored Nassar for years is forging ahead with plans to host its four-day national championships at Boston’s TD Garden in August, which is now featured on the venue’s website and USA Gymnastics’ website.
While some on social media are calling for a boycott of the embattled USA Gymnastics, Mayor Martin J. Walsh said yesterday he supports the atheletes.
"In Boston, we are fully supportive of the competing athletes who have trained for years to be part of this opportunity and the gymnasts who have been brave enough to share their stories with the world," Walsh said. "Abuse of any kind has no place in our society and those responsible should be held accountable."
Toni Troop of the anti-abuse group Jane Doe Inc.said the gymnasts shouldn't be punished.
"The athletes should not be precluded from coming to a world-class city nor should Boston lose out on bringing such an important event to our city," Troop told me.
"It's not about punishment for what they did in the past," said Troop, who said the organization needs to be held accountable going forward. "What commitments are they making in terms of training and being responsive to disclosures?"
"It's shocking. It's nauseating. But it's too easy to just say 'not here,'" Troop added. "That's not how accountability works. You actually have to engage people. We have to up our game as a society to be clear about what our expectations are in advance - and not only be reactive."
Yesterday, USA Gymnastics President Kerry Perry announced the organization had cut ties with Karolyi Ranch in Texas, a training center where Nassar sexually abused gymnasts, and canceled next week's training camp there for the U.S. Women's National Team.
"It has been my intent to terminate this agreement since I began as president and CEO in December," Perry said. "Our most important priority is our atheletes, and their training environment must reflect this. We are committed to a culture that empowers and supports our athletes."
About 100 sexual abuse survivors planned to speak at Nassar's sentencing hearing. Aly Raisman, who is from Needham, is among the Olympic gold medalists who say they were abused by Nassar. Her agent didn't respond for comment.