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Written by Amanda Turner    Wednesday, 24 January 2018 10:59    PDF Print
'One Voice Can Start a Movement': Larry Nassar Sentenced to 175 Years
(9 votes, average 3.78 out of 5)



Former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to 175 years in prison on Wednesday on seven counts of sexual assault.

Former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced a minimum of 40 years and a maxium of 175 years in prison on Wednesday on seven counts of sexual assault, 16 months after he was first publicly accused of violating young girls under the guise of medical treatment. The sentence came following a week of gripping testimony of more than 156 victims of the doctor who preyed on vulnerable girls and women, whose allegations against him were ignored for decades, in what has been called a turning point in history.

Calling his acts "calculated, devious, and despicable," Ingham County Circuit Judge Rosemarie Aquilina said it was a privilege to sentence Nassar to from 40 to 175 years in prison on the seven counts brought against him in the county.

"I just signed your death warrant," Aquilina told him.

After addressing the shocking number of sexual abuse statistics in the United States, including how few are actually reported, Aquilina said she wonders how many numbers of victims he truly has. Aquilina, an immigrant who came to the United States as the stateless daughter of a Maltese father and German mother, told Nassar that his crimes had cut to the core of the fabric of the community.

Aquilina first shocked the courtroom when she read portions of Nassar's six-page letter from last Thursday. Originally she had read only the portions related to his complaint about the hearing being too mentally stressful for him, but now she revealed that throughout the letter he had complained he was the victim of a witch hunt and in which he again asserted that he was a legitimate doctor who had performed real treatment instead of sexual assault, labeling his victims as ungrateful for everything he had done for them.

"Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned," Nassar wrote to Aquilina in his letter accusing the women of "fabricating" stories after being influenced by the media, eliciting gasps and boos from the courtroom. He claimed that his guilty plea was an act of kindness to spare everyone the trouble of a trial but that he was merely being victimized for his possession of child pornography, which he minimized through various excuses.

"Would you like to withdraw your plea?" Aquilina snapped at Nassar, who replied meekly, "No, ma'am." "Because you are guilty, aren't you?"

"It was not medical," continued Aquilina, who reminded Nassar again that her father and brother are doctors. "It was not treatment. There is no medical evidence that was ever brought to support that. There is no treatment here."

Aquilina said she would not release the whole letter because of the hurt it would cause, indicating its contents likely included further insults and absurdities about the woman who brought him down. She added her voice to those demanding a federal investigation into the circumstances that allowed Nassar to evade justice for so long. Nassar's letter claimed he was investigated and "cleared" by the FBI in 2015, a shocking claim that confirms the urgent need for the FBI to itself be investigated.

"There has to be a massive investigation as to why there was inaction, why there was silence," she said. "Justice requires more than what I can do on this bench."

Aquilina sentenced Nassar after three more women delivered gripping victim impact statements and Michigan Assistant Attorney General Angela Povilaitis delivered her closing argument, condemning Nassar for methodically and sadistically abusing young girls and women for his own enjoyment. Povilaitis praised the bravery of the women who came forward and the investigative journalists who shared their stories, but excoriated the system that let Nassar evade justice for decades.

Povilaitis expressed her outrage that it took so much for the women to finally be believed, and that even after the historic sentencing hearing that began last week, streamed live around the world, that people are still scorning the survivors of Nassar's abuse and claiming they are there for money and fame. Nobody should be above suspicion, she said, simply because of their reputations.

"Anyone can be a perpetrator," Povilaitis said. "Anybody can be a serial sexual predator. Anyone can be an abuser."

Povilaitis called Nassar possibly the most prolific child sex offender in history who hid behind his false reputation, and that he was able to groom so many young girls precisely because of the harsh treatment many gymnasts suffered at the hands of their coaches. Povilaitis reminded

Former gymnast-turned-lawyer Rachael Denhollander, the 156th and finally woman to speak against Nassar since the sentencing hearing began last Tuesday, delivered a truly gripping closing statement that struck out at Nassar, Michigan State, USA Gymnastics and even Shannon Smith, one of Nassar's attorneys. Smith had personally attacked Denhollander's early on in the case during a preliminary hearing, accusing Denhollander of lying for fame and fortune. Denhollander criticized so Smith so bitingly that Smith stood up to object, only to be met with a chorus of jeers from the gallery.

Denhollander thanked Aquilina and asked to deliver a sentence that will send a message across the country.

"How much is a little girl worth?" Denhollander asked. "How much is a young woman worth?"

With a skill of a seasoned prosecutor, Denhollander patiently called out MSU, going over each and incident when the university's handling of allegations against Nassar was so clearly botched.

"Was that the right way or the wrong way to handle a report of sexual assault on MSU's campus?" Denhollander asked of the institution that has continued to deny it failed in any way.

Before Denhollander, two more stood up to speak. Sterling Reithman, the first to speak Wednesday morning, shared with the world that the trauma Nassar inflicted upon her still "haunts her every day." Reithman explained that, as a devoted fan of shows like Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, she thought she knew what sexual assault was and how to defend herself from violent attackers, until her notions were destroyed by Nassar.

"I never once considered I'd be sexually abused with acupuncture needles in my spine," said Reithman, who added, "I can not blame myself for trusting my physician."

Like nearly every other woman who had spoken before her, Reithman demanded accountability from USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University, and also reinforced that the time of apathy in response to sexual assault would no longer be tolerated.

"This army doesn't have a white flag to wave," she said. "We are here to show you MSU, USA Gymnastics and the world that there is no white flag to wave when it comes to protecting young girls."

Kaylee Lorincz, 18, spoke before Denhollander, and shared how Nassar has assaulted her when she was just 11, and how details about her case made her identity clear to everyone who knew her, despite her name not being used. She told Nassar to confess the truth as to who enabled him.

"Look at me," said Lorincz, who was previously known as Victim E. "(Tell us) who knew what and when they knew it."

Povilaitis, her voice wavering with emotion, praised Denhollander repeatedly, as well as the journalists at The Indianapolis Star, who opened the door by their investigation into USA Gymnastics in August 2016. Povilaitis praised MSU Police Chief Jim Dunlap and Det. Andrea Munford, who supported Denhollander and lobbied for charges to be brought against him by Ingham County while Gretchen Whitmer did not move forward.

Whitmer, who has been outspoken against MSU over its handling of Nassar, is a leading candidate for governor of Michigan in the 2018 race. Whitmer, a Democrat, has denied that she refused to prosecute the case against Nassar for assault, despite the fact that she failed to file charges against him. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette launched a state-wide investigation upon the request of Dunlap.

Before Aquilina exposed the contents of his letter, Nassar spoke before the judge. The 54-year-old former doctor, who spent the last week largely avoiding eye contact with the women who came forward, stood by quietly when his lawyers defended themselves and claimed he was a broken man. Speaking quietly, he finally turned around several times during a short statement.

"Your words these past several days, your words, your words, have had a significant emotional effect on myself and have shaken me to my core," he read. "I also recognize that what I am feeling pales in comparison to the pain, trauma, and emotional destruction that all of you are feeling."

In December, Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in federal prison for charges related to child pornography. He remains to be sentenced next week in Eaton County, Michigan, on three additional charges of sexual assault.

The next fight is for justice, Lorincz said.

"I want answers, and I want accountability," she said.

In Grand Rapids, Michigan, on Wednesday morning, a pretrial conference was held for the federal civil case Denhollander brought against MSU, USA Gymnastics, Twistars and Nassar. Except for Nassar, who has lost the case already by failing to challenge, the defendants have all filed motions to dismiss on various grounds. As the civil case moves ahead with more than 140 plaintiffs suing, the focus will move to how many claims can stand up as the defendants' challenges. Attorney John Manly, who represents many of the plaintiffs, says he will continue to push move forward with a trial.

Povilaitis said her office is still taking reports in the case and will continue to pursue justice for the survivors. To contact the Michigan Attorney General's office, call (517) 373-1110.

 
Written by Amanda Turner    Tuesday, 23 January 2018 11:47    PDF Print
AT&T Flees USA Gymnastics Amid Nassar Scandal
(10 votes, average 3.80 out of 5)

Telecommunications giant AT&T has suspended its sponsorship of USA Gymnastics, the company announced Tuesday, as the sentencing hearing of former team doctor Larry Nassar continued into its sixth day in Lansing, Michigan.

AT&T is the fourth major sponsor to flee the organization amid its continually botched handling of the largest sex abuse scandal in history. Since 2016, Procter & Gamble, Hershey's and Under Armour had either canceled or declined to renew sponsorship of USA Gymnastics.

"We notified USA Gymnastics today that we are suspending our sponsorship of the organization until it is re-built and we know that the athletes are in a safe environment," AT&T said in a statement Tuesday. "The terrible abuse suffered by these young women is unconscionable. We remain committed to helping these young athletes pursue their dreams and hope to find other ways to do so. We stand ready to step back in when USAG has fully addressed these tragic events."

AT&T had been the title sponsor for USA Gymnastics' premier international event, the AT&T American Cup, scheduled for March 3 in Chicago. Held every year since 1976, the American Cup is one of the oldest international competitions in the gymnastics and has been an FIG World Cup event for the past several years.

Since 2016, USAG has been accused of reporting sex abuse of coaches in the sport, and then covering up and outright lying as it attempts to distance itself from Nassar, who was first alleged in September 2016 to have sexually abused young girls in his role as a doctor with USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University.

USA Gymnastics' leadership has been criticized for its poor handling of the scandal involving Nassar, who was allowed to publicly "retire" from the federation in 2015, despite the fact that three gymnasts had revealed that he had been sexually abusing them under the guise of "treatment." USAG, which failed to report Nassar for five weeks after first learning of the allegations against him, has been accused of being tone-deaf, ignoring pleas to make changes and failing to make substantial changes or address major issues in the sport.

USA Gymnastics president and CEO Steve Penny resigned in March 2017 after ignoring calls for him to resign, and full pledges of support from USAG Chairman Paul Parilla, Vice Chairman Jay Binder and Treasurer Bitsy Kelley who likewise ignored calls to resign until Monday. Both resignations reportedly came only after major pressure from the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Likewise, USA Gymnastics failed to take any action to close the Karolyi ranch as the national team center, despite backing out of a plan to purchase the ranch in 2016, after Marta Karolyi's retirement as national team coordinator. Only when Olympic champion Simone Biles came forward as a survivor of Nassar's abuse and shared her trauma of being forced to return to the ranch to continue training for 2020, did USAG take action and terminate its lease with the ranch.

USA Gymnastics has denied all liability for Nassar's action, even claiming it has no legal duty to inform Michigan State University or Twistars, the Michigan club where Nassar served as a longtime team doctor, after USAG had fired Nassar in September 2015.

 
Written by Amanda Turner    Tuesday, 23 January 2018 05:41    PDF Print
Ponor, Petrounias Win Inaugural UEG Honors for 2017
(6 votes, average 3.83 out of 5)



Cătălina Ponor (Romania) and Eleftherios Petrounias (Greece) have been selected as the top athletes of 2017 in the European Gymnastics Union's inaugural "European Gymnast of the Year" honors, which included five categories.

Cătălina Ponor (Romania) and Eleftherios Petrounias (Greece) have been selected as the top athletes of 2017 in the European Gymnastics Union's inaugural "European Gymnast of the Year" honors.

With five categories — Female Gymnast of the Year, Male Gymnast of the Year, Team of the Year, Rising Star of the Year and Performance of the Year — the candidates were nominated by the 50 member federations belonging to the UEG (Union Européenne de Gymnastique), along with the UEG's eight technical committees. The top six in each category were presented to the public to vote for 10 days, garnering more than 25,000 votes from fans this month.

Ponor, who won her fifth European title on balance beam in 2017, won by the largest margin, garnering more than 70 percent of the vote in her category.

Still rings king Petrounias was a double winner, winning in the men's category and the "Outstanding Performance of the Year" for 2017. Since his sixth place on rings at the 2014 Worlds in Nanning, Petrounias has been undefeated on his specialty, winning three consecutive European titles, back-to-back world titles and the 2016 Olympic gold medal.

Greek club Olympiada Thrakomakedonon, whose team competes under the Gymnastics of All discipline, was awarded the team title. Danish tumbler Rasmus Steffensen, 18, won the Rising Star of the Year award.

Tina Gerets, head of media at UEG, helped initiate the concept of an annual award for European gymnasts, an idea that will hopefully spread to other continental bodies, including the Asian Gymnastics Union (AGU) and the Pan American Gymnastics Union (PAGU), as well as the overall governing body for the sport, the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG).

"The idea behind the awards is [to give] the spotlight to the athletes and their fantastic achievements," Gerets told IG. "They deserve it. Also, I wanted to mix the different disciplines so fans got to know more about gymnasts they don't really know."

The awards will be presented to Steffensen and Petrounias at the 2018 European championships for tumbling and artistic gymnastics, held in April in Baku and in August in Glasgow, respectively. Gerets said the UEG is arranging an appropriate venue to present awards to Ponor, who retired at the end of 2017, and Olympiada Thrakemakedonon.

While a financial award for the winners had not been allotted in the budget for the first edition of the awards, Gerets said it is on the agenda for 2019.

Petrounias, who has largely self-funded his training amidst the Greek financial crisis of the past decade, said a financial prize would be "amazing." The additional recognition will provide inspiration for gymnasts, he said.

"I think it's a good idea for an athlete to have some more reasons to try to succeed," he told IG. "It will make the sport more competitive."

Petrounias was delighted with his double victory.

"I want to say a special thanks to the UEG, for this brilliant idea of the European Gymnastics Awards and for giving me the opportunity to be a candidate in two categories," Petrounias told the UEG. "These awards are something which our great sport needed, in order to gain even wider exposure. It is a perfect opportunity for the gymnastics fans to come closer to gymnastics through their vote and I just hope that this initiative will grow stronger and bigger each year. I wish to congratulate Olympiada Thrakomakedonon and the rest of the UEG Awards Winners, as well as all the candidates in each category. And of course, my gratitude goes to the thousands of fans who voted for me and elected me as a double UEG Award winner. Their support gives me a lot of strength ahead of the new season. I will try to be worthy of this honor and make happy all these people every time I can. Thank you all!"

Ponor, who turned 30 in September, was thrilled with the award which caps her remarkable career.

"Thank you so much, everyone, for voting for me!" Ponor said. "I feel loved and appreciated! Thank you, thank you, thank you all!"

Rasmus Steffensen, who will turn 19 on May 8, helped Denmark win its first world championships medal in tumbling last fall in Sofia when he, together with Rasmus Gaarde, Adam Matthiesen and Anders Wesch, won the World Cup team bronze and finished fourth as an individual, .2 behind the bronze medal.

"Thanks a lot!" Steffensen said. "It means everything."

Olympiada Thrakomakedonon was the world group champion at the 2017 World Gym for Life Challenge in Norway, winning with a routine called "The Wolves and the Moon." Olympia Dragouni, the head coach of the Athens club, told the UEG of her excitement over the award for Team of the Year. Greece, where gymnastics originated, fittingly won three of the five trophies in these inaugural continental awards.

"I'm excited for this result!" Dragouni said. "I want to say a big 'thank you' to all gymnastics fans that honored us with their vote and gave us such a distinction: Our 'Wolves' have been chosen as the best European gymnastics team of the year, against very strong candidates! From the bottom of our heart, we thank you all for your support and your love! This is not just a victory for Olympiada Thrakomakedonon and for Hellenic Gymnastics. It is an achievement for the whole discipline of Gymnastics of All, which has gained an important place among the other disciplines of our sport, thanks to the vote and acknowledgment of the gymnastics fans. I want to congratulate all winners of the voting and especially Eleftherios Petrounias, but most of all I wish to congratulate the UEG for this exceptional idea of creating these European Awards for the first time. I hope that this idea will continue and will become a very successful and long-lasting tradition in gymnastics."

1st European Gymnastics Awards
2017 Female Gymnast of the Year
3,240 total votes

AthleteDisciplineVotesPercent
1.Cătălina PonorArtistic gymnastics2,28970.65%
2.Ellie DownieArtistic gymnastics2969.14%
3.Linoy AshramRhythmic gymnastics2517.75%
4.Nina DerwaelArtistic gymnastics1614.97%
5.Giulia SteingruberArtistic gymnastics1484.57%
6.Pauline SchäferArtistic gymnastics662.04%
7.Tatsiana PiatreniaTrampoline gymnastics290.90%

2017 Male Gymnast of the Year
8,681 total votes

AthletesDisciplineVotesPercent
1.Eleftherios PetrouniasArtistic gymnastics5,27760.79%
2.Marian DrăgulescuArtistic gymnastics2,54529.32%
3.Tin SrbićArtistic gymnastics4395.06%
4.Oleg VernyayevArtistic gymnastics1261.45%
5.Dániel BaliAerobic gymnastics1051.21%
6.Mikhail ZalominTrampoline gymnastics1001.15%
7.Pablo BräggerArtistic gymnastics891.03%

2017 Team of the Year
2,952 total votes

AthletesDisciplineVotesPercent
1.Olympiada ThrakomakedononTeam Gym1,70357.69%
2.Danish TeamGym senior men's teamTeamGym58619.85%
3.Israeli rhythmic junior groupRhythmic gymnastics51817.55%
4.Efi Sach, Yannay Kalfa, Lidar Dana & Daniel UralevitchSports acrobatics1454.91%

2017 Rising Star of the Year
1,544 total votes

AthleteDisciplineVotesPercent
1.Rasmus SteffensenTumbling78250.65%
2.Mélanie de Jesus dos SantosArtistic gymnastics39425.52%
3.Tin SrbićArtistic gymnastics19212.44%
4.Florentina Gruber, Melanie Trautenberger and Victoria LoidlSports acrobatics875.63%
5.Artem DolgopyatArtistic gymnastics613.95%
6.Vinzenz HöckArtistic gymnastics281.81%

2017 Outstanding Performance of the Year
8,921 total votes

AthletesDisciplineVotesPercent
1.Eleftherios PetrouniasArtistic gymnastics7,79887.41%
2.Samir Aït SaïdArtistic gymnastics3714.16%
3.Sara Moreno and Vicente LliSports acrobatics2873.22%
4.Lina SjöbergTrampoline gymnastics2332.61%
5.Dina and Arina AverinaRhythmic gymnastics1501.68%
6.Marina Chernova and Georgiy PatarayaSports acrobatics590.66%
7.Tatsiana PiatreniaTrampoline gymnastics230.26%
 
Written by Amanda Turner    Monday, 22 January 2018 19:33    PDF Print
USAG Suspends Coach Geddert After Abuse Allegations
(7 votes, average 3.57 out of 5)



USA Gymnastics has suspended the professional membership of 2012 Olympic head coach John Geddert after multiple allegations of abuse emerged in the past week in association with the sentencing hearing of disgraced former doctor Larry Nassar.

USA Gymnastics has suspended the professional membership of 2012 Olympic head coach John Geddert after multiple allegations of abuse emerged in the past week in association with the sentencing hearing of disgraced former doctor Larry Nassar.

"John Geddert has been suspended under the interim measures provisions of Section 10.5 of USA Gymnastics' Bylaws," USA Gymnastics said in a statement Monday. "USA Gymnastics is unable to comment further as this is a pending matter."

Although the decision to suspend Geddert had already been leaked by Friday, USA Gymnastics did not respond to IG's request for comment or make a public statement until Monday. It is unknown when the decision was made.


John Geddert and Jordyn Wieber at the 2011 Worlds in Tokyo

USA Gymnastics had received reports of Geddert over the years but apparently declined to take action, although it is unknown if there was already an investigation in place since the Nassar scandal hit. Geddert and his gym, Geddert's Twistars USA, is being sued amid allegations he ignored complaints about Nassar sexually assaulting gymnasts for nearly 20 years. Geddert, whose association with Nassar dates to 1986 and his previous club Great Lakes Gymnastics, has denied knowledge of Nassar's abuse.

In the last week, national and Michigan media have reported on abusive treatment allegedly perpetrated by Geddert against his gymnasts, including assaults reported to the police. In some instances, Nassar intervened to protect Geddert and convince the family not to make reports. In public statements in Nassar's sentencing hearing, many of the survivors of Nassar's sexual abuse who attended Twistars say they trusted Nassar implicitly because of his seemingly warm and protective stance toward them in contrast to the physical and mental cruelty they allege that Geddert forced them to endure in the gym.

Most notably, ESPN's Outside the Lines included Geddert, the 2012 U.S. Elite National Coach of the Year, on its list of "enablers" of Nassar in the worst case of sexual abuse in sports history.

On Monday, former national team member Kamerin Moore spoke in court and described how Nassar used her hatred of her coaches and the pain she suffered after her father's suicide to groom her to trust him. only to abuse her instead. She also revealed that Nassar also sexually assaulted her brother under, also under the guise of treatment for his shoulder injury, that can only be described as sadomasochistic.

This past weekend, Geddert accompanied his team to the 2018 Sand Dollar/Whitlow Invitational in Orlando, Florida, and posted on Facebook about how proud he was of Twistars' performance and focus. However, according to people who also attended the event, Geddert was not on the floor with his team but watched the competition from the stands.

A native of Alpena, Michigan, Geddert competed on the gymnastics team for Central Michigan University, graduating with a degree in physical education. He moved to Rockville, Maryland, in 1980 to begin coaching under Gary Anderson at the MarVaTeens club. He returned to Michigan to coach at the Great Lakes Gymnastics Club in Lansing, where he became close friends with Nassar. His first elite gymnast, Katie Teft, qualified to the 1996 U.S. Olympic Trials. That year Geddert and his wife, Kathryn Geddert, left to form their own club, Gedderts' Twistars USA Gymnastics Club, in Dimondale, and then opened a second location in DeWitt. Geddert consistently praised and promoted Nassar's association with his club, both on his blog and in the coaching materials he sold through his own website, thegymnasticscoach.com.

Geddert's most prominent gymnast was 2011 world champion Jordyn Wieber, who was a member of the "Fierce Five" gold medal-winning team at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. On Friday, Wieber made a surprise appearance at the Michigan courtroom to share her story of abuse for the first time, and spoke of the mental anguish she has suffered as she realized that the doctor she entrusted to treat her major injuries — a torn hamstring in 2010 and stress fracture in her leg in 2012 — was likely not treating those injuries as she claimed. Wieber, who began gymnastics at Twistars in 1999, moved to California after the Olympics and recently graduated from UCLA, where she was the volunteer coach for the UCLA Bruins. She officially retired from gymnastics in 2015.

If Geddert is placed on USAG's list of permanently ineligible members, he will be the fourth U.S. Olympic coach on the list, along with women's coaches Vannie Edwards and Don Peters, and men's coach Jon Valdez. Peters was also head coach of the U.S. Olympic women's team in 1984.

 
Written by Amanda Turner    Monday, 22 January 2018 12:09    PDF Print
Three Resign from USA Gymnastics Board
(8 votes, average 3.75 out of 5)

USA Gymnastics Chairman Paul Parilla, Vice Chairman Jay Binder and Treasurer Bitsy Kelley have resigned effective Monday, more than 16 months into sexual abuse scandal that has crippled the sports governing body.

The remaining members of the board will choose an interim chairperson to lead the board until a permament is named, USA Gymnastics said in a statement.

Along with former president and CEO Steve Penny, the three are the only major members of USA Gymnastics to resign since the scandal broke in the summer of 2016 by The Indianapolis Star's investigative series into the organization's handling of sexual abuse over the decades. The scandal turned into tragedy with the revelation that the former team doctor Larry Nassar had sexually abused hundreds if not thousands of gymnasts, athletes and other members of the community for three decades.

The sentencing hearing of Nassar, who pleaded guilty to 10 counts of sexual assault in two Michigan counties last November, began last Tuesday in Ingham County. He agreed to allow anyone who had filed a complaint against him to deliver a victim impact statement at the hearing, resulting in a parade of survivors and their families sharing their stories of pain and devastation caused by his sexual abuse. Many also spoke out against the organizations and individuals who protected, promoted and enabled Nassar for decades. According to complaints filed in federal court, Michigan State University was notified that Nassar was assaulting girls as early as 1997 and USA Gymnastics was aware of as early as 1998. Both organizations have denied they had any knowledge, even though MSU did its own investigation of Nassar in 2014 and cleared him of any wrongdoing.

USA Gymnastics' leadership has been criticized throughout the scandal for its inaction, "hurtful" and dubious statements, and failure to take any responsibility for its role in the tragedy, particularly that it let Nassar publicly resign in September 2015 but never notified his employer, Michigan State University, or Twistars' Club in Michigan, where he continued to sexually abuse at least 19 more girls and women for one year. The board strongly backed Penny, issuing a letter of support for him months before a letter of apology to the victims. Penny resigned in March 2017 under pressure from the United States Olympic Committee and was given a massive financial payout by the board, with the amount he received never confirmed by the USA Gymnastics. The rumored size of Penny's payout has floated between $1 to $6 million. USA Gymnastics has never set up a fund to help the survivors.

USA Gymnastics has also never reached out to contact any of the survivors nor contacted other national team members or Olympians to see if they had been abused. Olympians Jamie Dantzscher — the first gymnast to file a lawsuit against USAG — McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas and Simone Biles have all come forward as survivors of Nassar's abuse. Maggie Nichols revealed earlier this month that she was the first gymnast to report Nassar's abuse in June 2015, after her coach overheard her, Raisman and another gymnast discussing Nassar's "treatments."

USA Gymnastics did not notify any law enforcement for five weeks, and issued a statement that Nichols' and Raisman's statements did not provide any credible allegations of abuse, which prompted outrage from Raisman and others. Despite this astonishing statement, USA Gymnastics has also claimed that Nichols' statement led to Nassar's conviction for sexual assaults in Michigan, which is contrary to known facts in the case. USA Gymnastics have also attempted to avoid liability in the lawsuit by filing a motion to dismiss partly by taking credit for Nassar's conviction by reporting him to the FBI in July 2015, even though the FBI never took any action and had no role in his arrest and subsequent guilty pleas. The FBI has refused comment on why it failed to investigate Nassar or release a report on any action it did take. Nichols' family has confirmed they did not hear from the FBI until July 2016, when she was interviewed shortly before the U.S. Olympic Trials.

"USA Gymnastics thanks Paul Parilla, Jay Binder and Bitsy Kelley for their many years of service to this organization," said Kerry Perry, who took over as president and CEO of USAG in December. "We support their decisions to resign at this time. We believe this step will allow us to more effectively move forward in implementing change within our organization. As the board identifies its next chair and fills the vacant board positions, we remain focused on working every day to ensure that our culture, policies and actions reflect our commitment to those we serve."

Despite knowledge that many national team members had been sexually abused by Nassar at the Karolyi ranch — and more than 15 years of criticism of the abusive training environment there — USA Gymnastics negotiated to would purchase the ranch as its permanent national training center in July 2016, following Marta Karolyi's retirement that year. Following the revelations about Nassar, USAG announced it would not purchase the ranch, but took no action to find an alternative training center. As of December, its leaderships only actions were discussing plans to solicit Requests for Proposal (RFP) for a new training center. Last week, after Biles revealed she was also abused by Nassar and was traumatized that she was forced to return there for upcoming camps, it caused massive public backlash against USAG. On Thursday, USAG announced it was terminating its least with the ranch, although a junior developmental camp was in process there.

 


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