The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee announced Thursday it has launched an investigation into multiple entities, including the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics, in the fallout from the Larry Nassar scandal.
Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University doctor, was recently convicted of molesting more than 200 underage female gymnasts under the guise of medical care over the course of the last two decades.
In its letter to USA Gymnastics, which was addressed to Kerry Perry, the organization’s president and CEO, the Reform Committee said USA Gymnastics is “at the center” of those responsible for Nassar’s “reprehensible conduct” going “undetected or ignored for years.” The Committee says it has begun investigating how Nassar’s crimes “were able to occur, let alone persist, for over two decades” and wants to understand “USA Gymnastics’ responsibility to its gymnastics clubs and gyms, its policies and procedures on sexual assault, and the actions it plans to take in response to this pervasive sexual abuse within the sport.”
“Sexual assault should never be tolerated, but when it does occur, it is imperative that swift and immediate action be taken to stop the abuse, prevent it from recurring, and address its effects,” the letter says.
“One of the most disturbing aspects of the survivors’ accounts is how this reprehensible conduct went undetected or ignored for years. Coaches, instructors, law enforcement, and other trusted adults all failed these young athletes.
“USA Gymnastics, the national governing body for the sport in the United States, is at the center of many of these failures. The Committee seeks to better understand USA Gymnastics’ responsibility to its gymnastics clubs and gyms, its policies and procedures on sexual assault, and the actions it plans to take in response to this pervasive sexual abuse within the sport.”
The Committee asked USA Gymnastics — which set up a fund to assist victims of sexual abuse this week — to turn over unredacted documents relating to Twistars USA Gymnastics Club and Karolyi Ranch, both of which are also being investigated, as well as any documents or any communications related to Nassar.
Similar requests and demands were made of the United States Olympic Committee.
“The USOC’s mission is to ‘help American athletes achieve sustained competitive excellence while demonstrating the values of the Olympic Movement.’ The USOC certifies and oversees USA Gymnastics. It has a significant responsibility to develop, cultivate, and protect its athletes. Yet, an Olympic gymnastics team doctor sexually abused young gymnasts unfettered for years,” the Committee’s letter to the USOC reads.
Twistars was run by former USA Gymnastics coach John Geddert, who coached the team to gold at the 2012 London games. Geddert, a close companion of Nassar, was suspended last month as USA Gymnastics investigated him for abusive behavior toward athletes. He subsequently announced his retirement.
“Twistars’s coaches, trainers, and doctors have a significant responsibility to their athletes, who they see on a daily basis,” the Committee’s letter reads. “Yet, Twistars’ team doctor sexually abused young gymnasts unfettered for years.”
In a CNN interview Thursday, Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman said Geddert may have been aware of Nassar’s conduct in 2011 — five years before he was arrested. Raisman said she and teammates discussed the abuse they suffered at the hands of Nassar in front of Geddert.
“We would talk about it amongst ourselves,” Raisman said. “And one of my teammates described in graphic detail what Nassar had done to her the night before. And John Geddert was in the car with us and he just didn’t say anything.”
The Committee also sent a letter to Michigan State University informing it of an investigation.
“MSU hired Nassar as its gymnastics team doctor and assistant professor in 1997. Despite sexual assault allegations during Nassar’s tenure, MSU did not fire him until September 20, 2016,” the letter says.
Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in federal prison on child pornography charges in December before receiving additional sentences for sexual abuse in recent weeks. At his sentencing hearing, 156 of his victims confronted him in open court.
– – – – – – –