Officials with the U.S. Olympic Committee are calling for USA Gymnastics president and CEO Steve Penny to resign from his position so that USA Gymnastics can move past the sexual abuse scandal involving a former team doctor.
Committee officials told USA Today that Penny must leave his position as head of USA Gymnastics if the governing body has any chance of a fresh start after former team doctor Larry Nassar was accused of sexually abusing athletes.
Nassar, 53, has been charged with 25 counts of criminal sexual conduct and multiple counts of child pornography, ESPN reports. He has pleaded not guilty to three sexual assault charges in Michigan.
Nassar served as the team doctor for USA Gymnastics from 1996 to 2015. USA Gymnastics fired Nassar and the FBI launched its own investigation into the sexual abuse allegations.
Nassar has been incarcerated without bond, the Associated Press reports.
The USOC officials cited Penny’s failure to immediately report Nassar after sexual abuse allegations were reported to USA Gymnastics in June 2015, USA Today reports.
However, USA Gymnastics is standing by Penny, who is a co-defendant in a civil lawsuit accusing Nassar of sexually abusing 2000 Olympian Jamie Dantzscher, according to the AP.
“Steve Penny is among the strongest advocates for our athletes and has reported suspected instances of abuse to law enforcement himself,” USA Gymnastics officials said in a statement to USA Today.
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“He takes their safety seriously, and over the course of his tenure as CEO, has strengthened USA Gymnastics policies and programs to further protect the health and well-being of athletes.”
Although the USOC can’t fire Penny, a recommendation from the group could go a long way in deciding his fate within USA Gymnastics. Committee members are expected to recommend Penny’s ousting at their Thursday board meeting, according to the AP.
USA Gymnastics has denied any wrongdoing in the scandal. But Dantzscher’s lawsuit claims that the governing body negligently concealed or failed to disclose Nassar’s alleged acts, according to the AP.
The allegations made headlines in February when Dantzscher, Jeannette Antolin and Jessica Howard spoke on CBS’ 60 Minutes, alleging that Nassar began abusing them as teenagers in the 1990s.
The women said Nassar told them that he was performing medical procedures to improve their health and address their medical problems. As part of this, the women said, Nassar inserted ungloved fingers in their vaginas or rectums on repeated occasions and for lengthy periods of time.