Aja Evans, a 2014 Olympic bobsled bronze medalist, has filed a lawsuit alleging that a doctor who worked on Team USA’s medical staff subjected her to nearly a decade of sexual abuse and harassment during treatment.
The doctor, Jonathan Wilhelm, as well as the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) and USA Bobsled and Skeleton Federation were named as defendants in the lawsuit filed on Wednesday in a state court in upstate New York.
Evans, 35, said in a news release on Thursday that Wilhelm’s “repeated molestation and sexual assault” left her “physically and emotionally damaged, to the point where I experience chronic anxiety and fell out of love with the sport of bobsledding.”
The lawsuit said Wilhelm’s treatment “mirrors the abuse perpetuated” by Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics team doctor serving a potential 175-year prison sentence following his 2018 conviction for sexually abusing female gymnasts.
Ryan Stevens, a lawyer for Wilhelm, said his client “wholeheartedly denies the detestable claims against him,” and called comparing Wilhelm to Nassar “disgraceful and defamatory.”
The USOPC said it had not reviewed the complaint, but “remains committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of Team USA athletes,” including by eliminating abuse.
USA Bobsled did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Evans’ lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for additional comment.
The lawsuit said Wilhelm began treating Evans in 2012, and that during the treatment he “touched and groped Ms. Evans’ genitals and body in contravention of any applicable medical standards.”
Evans said it was well known among athletes that Wilhelm would, regardless of their injuries, find a reason to “go for the adductor,” a group of muscles located on the inner thighs.
She also alleges that Wilhelm had been reported for videotaping and photographing Evans and others in various states of undress during treatment sessions and prior to competition at the USOPC training facility in Lake Placid, New York.
“Rather than being protected, believed, and taken seriously, Ms. Evans was subjected to investigation and degradation by the USOPC and USA Bobsled governing bodies,” the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for pain and suffering, medical damages and other harm, plus punitive damages.
Evans won a bronze medal in the two-woman bobsled at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
In November 2022, Evans received a two-year ban from bobsledding for not submitting a sample during an out-of-competition drug test the previous March.