Aja Evans, an Olympic bobsledder who won a bronze medal in the 2014 Olympics, has filed a lawsuit in New York alleging that a chiropractor hired by Team USA sexually assaulted her during sessions.
Dr. Jonathan Wilhelm was named as a defendant in the suit, along with his Wilhelm’s Pro Chiropractic clinic. Also named are the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee and the USA Bobsled and Skeleton Federation.
Evans says that Wilhelm, who has two offices in Bozeman and Belgrade, Montana, used his profession to conduct exams that became abusive, including probing pelvic areas not connected to treatment and recording and photographing clients.
“The repeated molestation and sexual assault I suffered at the hands of John Wilhelm left me physically and emotionally damaged, to the point where I experienced chronic anxiety and fell out of love with the sport of bobsledding,” Evans said in a statement.
She said the abuse started at a treatment session in 2012 when she was referred to Wilhelm for a hip injury. Evans also says that he was reported to coaches and medical staff by several athletes, but their concerns were disregarded.
In 2016, the bobsled team hired their own medical provider for treatment due to their concerns about Wilhelm.
“Wilhelm would not obtain consent or otherwise explain his procedure prior to or during treatment, and would instead speak softly to (Evans) in a manner intended to distract and confuse, asking her intimate and inappropriate questions about her family, romantic life and other personal topics unrelated to medical treatment,” per the lawsuit.
Through his lawyer, Wilhelm denied the allegations. “Dr. Wilhelm wholeheartedly denies the detestable claims against him,” Ryan Stevens, Wilhelm’s Arizona-based attorney, said in a statement to The Athletic. “He has not yet had the opportunity to defend any of these baseless claims in court or through the litigation process, but he looks forward to doing so.”
In 2018, Evans says that Wilhelm placed a phone camera in a dressing room so that he could record Evans and her teammates as they dressed and undressed, even though she and her teammates sent a letter to USA Bobsled reporting his previous behavior.
It wasn’t until the U.S. Center for Safe Sport initiated an investigation based on another complaint that nothing was done. Evans says she’s been interviewed as part of that investigation. She’s currently waiting out a two-year ban she received after non-compliance with a drug test in November of 2022. Evans says despite being traumatized by the alleged abuse, she may return to the sport when the ban ends next year.
“While we are unable to comment on the specifics of the lawsuit or any ongoing investigations, USABS condemns sexual misconduct,” a statement provided to The Athletic by USA Bobsled/Skeleton read. “These types of matters fall under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Center for SafeSport and law enforcement. USABS is fully supportive and cooperative of all investigations conducted by SafeSport.”
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