Shawn Johnson East Reacts to Weinstein Controversy in Wake of USA Gymnastics Sexual Misconduct Scandal
"The more voices that come out, the more people can start relating to it, and saying, 'Oh there actually is an issue that we need to fix,' " Shawn Johnson East tells PEOPLE Now
Shawn Johnson East is championing the women coming forward to share their own experiences with sexual misconduct in the wake of the mounting allegations against movie producer Harvey Weinstein.
“The more voices that come out, the more people can start relating to it, and saying, ‘Oh, there actually is an issue that we need to fix,’ ” the Olympic gold medalist, 25, tells PEOPLE Now. “I think it just liberates people because they can actually talk about things that have been hidden for so long.”
In addition to those allegations, Nassar also pleaded guilty on July 11 to three child pornography charges in federal court, ABC News reported, via ESPN. In exchange for Nassar’s guilty plea, U.S. prosecutors have reportedly agreed not to pursue charges in two additional incidents of alleged sexual crimes with minors.
Many have since called for the organization to take better preventive measures to keep athletes safe.
“Speaking on, like, the gymnastics side, I know that USA Gymnastics is doing is much to turn the sport around and to kind of give a new face to the platform and do everything they can to bring positive energy back,” says Johnson.
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Adds the Olympic athlete, “Bringing out so much negative is so draining and so exhausting and depressing but it’s giving a voice to a lot of people that need it and changing a lot of things that need to be changed.”
Team USA Gymnastics released a lengthy statement about allegations in February, stating in part that “Regarding Dr. Larry Nassar, USA Gymnastics is appalled that anyone would exploit a young athlete or child in the manner alleged. We are grateful to the athletes that brought their concerns about Dr. Nassar to USA Gymnastics.”
A spokesperson for Weinstein previously told PEOPLE in a statement that “any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein.”