Athletes Who Broke Open Abuse Case Demand New USA Gymnastics Leadership in Petition: 'They Want Kids to Be Safe'

Three former gymnasts who initially accused Dr. Larry Nassar of sexual abuse are demanding a change in leadership within USA Gymnastics

Three former athletes who accused former USA Gymnastics team doctor Dr. Larry Nassar of sexual abuse are launching a petition calling for change in leadership within the organization in the wake of McKayla Maroney‘s moving post about sexual abuse she also allegedly endured under Nassar.

Jeanette Antolin, Jessica Howard and Olympian Jamie Dantzscher, who all accused Nassar of abuse in a February 60 Minutes interview, have started a petition on to demand that those who knew about, or turned a blind eye to, Nassar’s alleged abuse be held accountable.

“A lot of women have come forward now but nothing’s changed in USA Gymnastics,” Stu Mollrich, a media consultant for the law firm of Manley, Stewart & Finaldi, which is representing the women, tells PEOPLE.

“They still have the same leadership. The same people that were there when all of this was going on, the same people who failed to stop Nassar and tried to cover it up. They should be gone.”

The women, former members of the U.S. women’s national gymnastics team, allege that Nassar began abusing them as teenagers in the 1990s — allegedly telling them he was performing standard medical procedures.

Senate Holds Hearing On Protecting Young Athletes From Sexual Abuse
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On Wednesday, Olympian Maroney accused Nassar of abusing her repeatedly for years, beginning when she was 13 years old. She claimed that Nassar drugged her during a flight to Tokyo when she was 15 so he could assault her.

In a statement, USA Gymnastics officials praised Maroney for speaking out and declared that the organization is “strengthening and enhancing our policies and procedures regarding abuse, as well as expanding our educational efforts to increase awareness of signs to watch for and reporting suspicions of abuse, including the obligation to immediately report. USA Gymnastics, its members and community are committed to working together to keep our athletes as safe as possible.”

A rep for Nassar did not immediately respond to a request for comment from PEOPLE.

Japan World Gymnastics, Tokyo, Japan
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“We’ve been talking about it for about a month and I think the timing now is right,” Mollrich says. “One of the reasons why they’re speaking up about this — and McKayla said the same thing in her post — is that they want change and they want kids to be safe.”

In March, Steve Penny resigned from his position as USA Gymnastics president. But, in a press release announcing the petition, officials said that’s not enough and named USA Gymnastics Chairman Paul Parilla, Vice Chairman Jay Binder and Treasurer Bitsy Kelley.

USA Gymnastics did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

“[They] have focused their attention on money and medals while USA Gymnastics is attempting to cover up the largest child sex abuse scandal in the history of sports,” officials said in the release. “They must be replaced by people who will put the health and safety of athletes first.”

Nassar faces several charges related to the alleged abuse. In July, Nassar pleaded guilty to three child pornography charges in federal court, ABC News reported via ESPN.

News: Dr. Larry Nassar
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He still faces 33 charges of criminal sexual conduct in Michigan, according to USA Today. The Lansing State Journal reports that jury selection begins in the state case the same week as his federal sentencing.

A spokeswoman for Attorney General Bill Schuette declined to comment on Nassar’s case but said that the man remains in federal custody in Michigan.

The law firm says it represents more than 100 women and girls who have accused Nassar of sexual abuse.

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