Hundreds of Gymnasts Across the U.S. Alleged Sexual Abuse by Coaches, Gym Owners: Report
Findings of a nine-month-long investigation by the Indianapolis Star have turned up startling revelations on the amount of reported sexual abuse from young gymnasts in the U.S. and the systematic failures that allowed abusive coaches and trainers to relocate to other USA Gymnastics certified gyms.
On the heels of an investigative report released by the newspaper in August detailing four instances when USA Gymnastics failed to appropriately report sexual abuse claims, the Star uncovered that in the past 20 years, 368 gymnasts have alleged sexual abuse from more than 100 coaches, gym owners and other adults.
According to police files and court cases obtained by the publication, a number of the victims are children — almost all are girls.
The allegations range from coaches secretly photographing 6-year-olds in the nude, a coach having “almost daily sex” with a 14-year-old and another coach who “slipped a finger inside girls’ leotards.”
In a statement released to Indianapolis Star, USA Gymnastics mentioned several initiatives to create a safer environment for gymnasts, including coach background checks and educational materials.
“Nothing is more important to USA Gymnastics, the Board of Directors and CEO Steve Penny than protecting athletes, which requires sustained vigilance by everyone — coaches, athletes, parents, administrators and officials,” the organization said to the publication. “We are saddened when any athlete has been harmed in the course of his or her gymnastics career.”
Marisa Kwiatkowski, Mark Alesia and Tim Evan write in their second exposé that USA Gymnastics “did not know how many children have alleged sexual abuse against its members.”
USA Gymnastics, a powerhouse presence at the Summer Olympics, trains and develops Olympic gymnastics teams and has 121,000 athlete members.
“We find it appalling that anyone would exploit a young athlete or child in this manner, and recognize the effect this behavior can have on a person’s life,” the organization told the Star. “USA Gymnastics has been proactive in helping to educate the gymnastics community and will continue to take every punitive action available within our jurisdiction and cooperate fully with law enforcement.”