USA Gymnastics Sexual Abuse
The highly publicized case of convicted sexual abuser, US Olympic team doctor Larry Nassar, brought to light the serious issues of sexual abuse and assault within female gymnastics. If you or a loved one was abused or assaulted by someone connected to USA Gymnastics, you may be entitled to financial compensation through a civil lawsuit against the individual as well as the institutions that perpetuated the abuse. Please contact Manly Stewart & Finaldi to discuss your case in more detail with one of our experienced sexual assault lawyers. We can help you stand up for your rights when it matters the most.
The Dark History of USA Gymnastics and Sexual Abuse
There is evidence that sexual abuse has pervaded USA Gymnastics for decades. Yet these cases are only recently getting the attention that they deserve. For years, USA Gymnastics, along with organizations such as the US Olympics, succeeded in sweeping sexual abuse allegations under the rug. Widespread exposure started on August 4, 2016, with the publishing of a series called Out of Balance by The Indianapolis Star (IndyStar) the night before the opening ceremony of the Rio Games.
IndyStar’s investigation found multiple cases of young gymnasts suffering negative consequences due to sexual abuse by coaches, including eating disorders, suicidal tendencies and self-harm. It was the IndyStar series that led to the Larry Nassar case coming forward, as Rachael Denhollander read the report and decided to contact the IndyStar about her own sexual abuse by Nassar over 10 years earlier as a club-level gymnast in Michigan.
Also in Michigan, former USA Gymnastics coach John Geddert was charged with 24 felony counts of human trafficking, as well as sexually, physically and emotionally abusing gymnasts at his gym, Twistars Gymnastics Club in Dimondale, MI. This is the same gym where Nassar was accused of sexually abusing young female gymnasts. Geddert was found dead by suicide on the day that the charges against him were entered. Survivors may still be able to bring lawsuits for their abuse by Geddert, however, against the institutions that allowed the abuse to take place.
USA Gymnastics Had a Policy of Not Reporting Sexual Abuse Allegations
The first investigation into sexual abuse in USA Gymnastics discovered that the organization had an executive policy of not reporting every allegation of sexual abuse. USA Gymnastics would not report potential abuse or assault to the police or child welfare services, as required by law in most states, in most situations. Their executive policy states that they would only report abuse with a signed complaint from the survivor or the survivor’s parent or guardian.
In a sexual abuse lawsuit from 2013, two former USA Gymnastics officials confirmed this information under oath. This goes against not only best practices for sexual abuse reporting but the law in most states. The lack of effort by USA Gymnastics and related affiliations to protect their athletes allowed sexual abuse by Nassar and other perpetrators to continue and even seemed to encourage athlete sexual abuse.
For example, Michigan State University (MSU) first received a complaint against Larry Nassar in 2014. Yet the college allowed Nassar to continue treating patients – with only a few restrictions – for two years. They only fired him after the IndyStar article was published in 2016 for breach of contract. The failure to take the proper steps to prevent and address sexual abuse by MSU is what eventually led to a $500 million settlement against MSU.
A report by the Department of Justice Inspector General said Steve Penny, then the president and chief executive of U.S.A. Gymnastics, stalled the FBI investigation into Nassar from the summer of 2015 until Nassar was arrested in the fall of 2016. During that time, Nassar returned to MSU and molested another 120 girls.
Were You Sexually Abused in USA Gymnastics? Contact Us Today
Manly, Stewart & Finaldi has handled very high-profile sexual abuse cases involving USA Gymnastics, including the civil lawsuit against Larry Nassar and Michigan State University. We are a trusted and reputable law firm that is one of the leaders in the nation for sexual abuse and assault cases. If you or a loved one is a survivor of sexual abuse within USA Gymnastics, call our East Coast office at (800) 700-8450, our West Coast office at (855) 964-0661 or contact us online right away for a free and confidential consultation. We can help you fight for justice.