USA Gymnastics Allegedly Ignored Sexual Abuse Claims Against Coaches for Years: Report
According to an Indianapolis Star investigation, USA Gymnastics executives allegedly did not properly alert authorities of sexual abuse claims
On the same week the Summer Olympics are set to begin in Rio, USA Gymnastics executives are coming under fire for reportedly not doing enough to alert authorities of sexual abuse claims against coaches affiliated with the organization.
The Indianapolis Star published a detailed report on Thursday that examines several cases of alleged abuse.
In one example, the paper reports that a USA Gymnastics officials testified in a 2013 lawsuit filed by an alleged victim that “the organization routinely dismissed sexual abuse allegations as hearsay unless they came directly from a victim or victim’s parent.”
USA Gymnastics, a powerhouse presence at the Summer Olympics, trains and develops Olympic gymnastics teams and has 121,000 athlete members.
Marisa Kwiatkowski, Mark Alesia and Tim Evan write in their exposé that USA Gymnastics would not disclose the total number of sexual misconduct allegations it receives each year, but records show the organization compiled “complaint dossiers” on more than 50 coaches, which were placed in a drawer in its executive office in Indianapolis.
Even so, the Star reporters were able to uncover four apparent instances when USA Gymnastics failed to appropriately report sexual abuse claims – including 2010 national Women’s Coach of the Year, Marvin Sharp, whose “inappropriate touching of minors” wasn’t reported for four years (he killed himself in jail after he was charged in 2015) and coach William “Bill” McCabe, who is currently serving a 30-year sentence for molesting young gymnasts starting as early as 1998.
USA Gymnastics released a statement after the story was published, reports The Washington Post.
“The Star left out significant facts that would have painted a more accurate picture of our efforts,” said the organization.
And in a second statement, USA Gymnastics said that addressing “issues of sexual misconduct” has been important to the organization “for many years.”
“The organization is committed to promoting a safe environment for its athletes. 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. USA Gymnastics has been proactive in helping to educate the gymnastics community over the years, and will continue to take every punitive action available within our jurisdiction, and cooperate fully with law enforcement.”
The The Indianapolis Star has filed a motion in a current “Jane Doe” civil lawsuit in Georgia to have sexual misconduct reports on the over 50 coaches compiled by USA Gymnastics released. The “Jane Doe” suit claims that USA Gymnastics received four complaints about William McCabe before going to authorities, which allowed the coach to abuse an 11-year-old girl.
USA Gymnastics has filed to dismiss the “Jane Doe” lawsuit.
There has been no ruling from Judge Ronal Thompson on either request.