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The USA Gymnastics sex abuse scandal is a series of criminal incidents in which Larry Nassar, a former national team doctor for USA Gymnastics, is charged with sexual abuse of minors and is named in hundreds of lawsuits filed by athletes who allege that Nassar sexually abused them under the guise of giving them medical treatment. Since the first public allegations against Nassar were made in September 2016, former USA Gymnastics national team members Jamie Dantzscher, Jeanette Antolin, McKayla Maroney and Aly Raisman have accused Nassar of sexually abusing them as well. Nassar has denied the charges. In July 2017, Nassar pled guilty to federal child pornography charges and is currently in jail awaiting sentencing.
USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University, where Nassar was a faculty member, have been accused of negligence and are named as defendants in civil lawsuits that were filed against Nassar by former gymnasts.Contents
Dr. Lawrence G. Nassar was a licensed osteopath and the former national team doctor for USA Gymnastics. He also had a clinic and gymnastics club at Michigan State University, where he was a faculty member. USA Gymnastics fired Nassar in 2015 "after learning of athlete concerns."
In September 2016, The Indianapolis Star revealed that two former gymnasts had made allegations of sexual abuse against Nassar. Following those allegations, Michigan State University reassigned Nassar from his clinical and teaching duties, and fired him later that same month. Since then, over 150 people have accused Nassar of sexually abusing them. According to these allegations, Nassar committed sexual assault during medical examinations, ranging from inserting a finger in the gymnasts' vaginas and anuses, to fondling their breasts and genitalia. Nassar has denied the charges, claiming he was performing legitimate medical procedures. In February 2017, three former gymnasts, Jeanette Antolin, Jessica Howard and Jamie Dantzscher, gave an interview with 60 Minutes in which they accused Nassar of sexually abusing them. The gymnasts also alleged that the "emotionally abusive environment" at the national team training camps run by Béla and Márta Károlyi at the Karolyi Ranch gave Nassar an opportunity to take advantage of the gymnast and made them afraid to speak up about the abuse. On October 18, 2017, Olympic gold medalist McKayla Maroney, using the #MeToo hashtag on Twitter, alleged that Nassar repeatedly molested her, starting when she was 13 years old until her retirement from the sport in 2016. During a November 12, 2017 60 Minutes interview, Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman also accused Nassar of sexually abusing her.Arrest
Nassar was arrested on federal child pornography charges in December 2016. According to the FBI, over 37,000 images and videos of child pornography were seized from Nassar's home, including a GoPro video of Nassar allegedly molesting girls in a swimming pool. Nasser pleaded guilty to federal child pornography charges in July 2017, and is currently in jail awaiting sentencing in December 2017. Nassar still faces 33 charges of criminal sexual conduct in Michigan.Reactions USA Gymnastics
According to a 2016 investigation reported by The Indianapolis Star, top executives at USA Gymnastics routinely dismissed sexual abuse allegations against coaches and failed to alert authorities.
According to USA Gymnastics, the organization first learned of an athlete's concern regarding Nassar in June 2015. Following an investigation, Nassar was fired and reported to the FBI in July 2015. In March 2017, USA Gymnastics president Steve Penny resigned amid accusations of negligence and calls for his dismissal. In response to the scandal, USA Gymnastics adopted reforms based on a June 2017 report by an investigator hired to review the organization's policies and practices. One of the changes is a requirement that all USA Gymnastics members report any suspected sexual misconduct to legal authorities and the US Center for SafeSport.
USA Gymnastics has received criticism over its handling of the sexual abuse allegations against Nassar. United State Senators criticized the organization's leadership for waiting five weeks before reporting Nassar to authorities after first learning of allegations involving Nassar in 2015. Juliet Macur of The New York Times was critical of USA Gymnastics for not attending the 2017 congressional hearing on protecting young athletes from sexual abuse, and noted that the organization had not apologized for its role in the scandal. Two-time Olympian Aly Raisman was also critical of USA Gymnastics' response to the scandal, pointing out that the reported $1 million severance package given to former president Penny could have been used to create a program to help the affected athletes.Michigan State University
Michigan State University said that it first received a complaint against Nassar in 2014. An investigation into the complaint found no violation of policy, and Nassar was allowed to continue treating patients under certain agreed upon restrictions. After allegations against Nassar were made public by The Indianapolis Star, Nassar was fired by Michigan State for violating the 2014 agreement.Senate
In response to the sexual abuse allegations made against Nassar, as well as personnel involved with USA Swimming and USA Taekwondo, United States Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced a bill that would require National Governing Body (NGB) Members overseeing Olympic sports to immediately report sexual assault allegations to law enforcement or designated child-welfare agencies. Former gymnasts Dominique Moceanu, Jamie Dantzscher and Jessica Howard, testified at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on March 28, 2017, concerning the bill. Rick Adams, chief of Paralympic sports for the United States Olympic Committee and head of organizational development for the NGBs, stated at the hearing: "We do take responsibility, and we apologize to any young athlete who has ever faced abuse." USA Gymnastics was asked to testify at the hearing, but declined.See also