Larry Nassar sentenced to 175 years in prison

Former USA gymnastics president 'informed Olympic Committee of sexual abuse' decades before Larry Nassar scandal

'Little was done' to address systemic issues of abuse, the former gymnastics president says

Chris Riotta
New York
@chrisriotta
Friday 23 November 2018 23:42
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The former president of the USA Olympic Gymnastics (USAG) team said she informed the US Olympic Committee (USOC) of sexual abuse in the sport over two decades ago, claiming “little was done” to address the issue.

Kathy Scanlan, who served as USAG president from 1994 to 1998, said she addressed sexual abuse with the committee shortly after taking charge, according to filings at the US District Court for the Northern District of California this week. "USOC's challenge to [USA Gymnastics] disciplining professional members in this fashion (specifically impeding the ability to ban, suspend or investigate a member) would have inhibited me from adequately protecting minor members,” she said.

Her statement arrived after the Olympic Committee threatened to revoke USAG’s status as a national governing body for the sport following the high-profile scandal involving repeat sexual abuse by former national team doctor Larry Nassar.

Ms Scanlan testified she had helped enact national policies to protect children including publishing names of terminated members in USA Gymnastics magazine, according to the new filings included in a March lawsuit filed by Aly Raisman, the three-time Olympic gold medalist suing Nassar, the USOC, USAG and others for serial sexual abuse.

Ms Scanlan’s successor Bob Colarossi, who was USAG president from 1998 to 2005, also testified that he had addressed the sexual misconduct issues with the USOC, according to the court documents filed on Wednesday.

A representative for the USOC did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

USAG has been in turmoil over the past two years since dozens of female gymnasts, including Olympic champions Ms Raisman, McKayla Maroney, Gabby Douglas and Simone Biles, came forward to accuse Nassar of sexual abuse.

Nassar was sentenced in February to up to 125 years in prison after some 200 women testified about abuse at his hands. The scandal prompted the entire board of directors at USA Gymnastics to resign, along with the president and athletic director at Michigan State University, where Nassar also worked.

It has also sparked several lawsuits, high-profile resignations and criminal and civil investigations.

Mr Colarossi noted in a 1999 letter sent to the USOC that the USAG’s safety procedures regarding the abuse of minor athletes by their doctors and coaches were a “fundamentally flawed process” and the committee had an “apparent indifference to the welfare of young children.”

Rather than revoking its status, the committee instead decided not to relinquish its recognition by asking questions about the matter and the USOC hearing process.

Many victims testified that Nassar, 54, sexually abused them under the guise of medical treatment while on his examination table, sometimes hiding it from view of parents waiting nearby.

The revelations of the long-running abuses sparked investigations into possible abuse at US athletic federations and schools by Congress and the US Department of Education, and led to the resignation of the head of the US Olympic Committee, who cited medical reasons.

“I’ve signed your death warrant,” Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina told Nassar, following days of accounts from about 160 of his victims.

After the sentence decision, the president of Michigan State University, where Nassar also worked, said she was resigning after facing a barrage of criticism for not doing enough to halt the abuse.

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Nassar, who served as the program’s physician through four Olympic Games, apologised to his victims during the hearing, telling them, “I will carry your words with me for the rest of my days.”

Nassar, who already is serving a 60-year sentence in federal prison for child pornography convictions, also said his accusers fabricated claims to gain money and fame, writing, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

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