Congress says that the US Olympic Committee & # 39; fundamentally failed & # 39; to protect gymnasts against Larry Nassar
Multiple organizations have fundamentally failed & # 39; to protect young female gymnasts against sexual abuse by former gymnast doctor Larry Nassar, a conference report reveals.
The damn findings of an 18-month study describe how Nassar abused more than 300 athletes in two decades due to ineffective supervision by the American Olympic Committee, US Gymnastics (USAG) – the governing body of the sport – and the FBI.
The report also found that Michigan State University, where Nassar also worked, & # 39; had chances to stop Nassar, but did not. & # 39;
The report, which was obtained by NBC News, was performed by Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal and other members of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Production, Trade and Consumer Protection.
Multiple organizations have fundamentally failed & # 39; to protect young female gymnasts from sexual abuse by former gymnast doctor Larry Nassar, (photo), according to a report
The 18-month investigation was conducted by Senator Jerry Moran (left) and Richard Blumenthal (right) proposed legislation to improve supervision and prevent future abuse
Senator Blumenthal told NBC News: & # 39; Whether it was a criminal cover-up remains to be proven, but it was a cover-up in the spirit. & # 39;
Kansas Senator, chairman of the subcommittee, also told NBC News: & # 39; terrible things have happened. & # 39; In many cases, they were reported and, almost without exception, the people to whom they were reported did not respond. & # 39;
The two US senators have enacted legislation to prevent sexual assault on athletes by increasing supervision and civil liability for US Olympic and sports officials after the Larry Nassar scandal.
In the past, Moran and Blumenthal had referred Steve Blackmun, the former CEO of the US Olympic Committee, to the Justice Department for possible criminal prosecution for false statements to Congress.
In 2018, Nassar was imprisoned for 40 to 175 years in the state prison of Michigan after he was found guilty of seven counts of sexual abuse of minors.
More than 500 women came forward and accused him of sexual abuse while working at Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics.
In April 2018, Michigan State University was reported to pay $ 500 million in casualties, of which $ 425 million to the 332 victims who came forward to reveal that they were sexually assaulted by Nassar.
The remaining $ 75 million goes into trust for any victims who can report at a future date.
Olympians Aly Raisman, Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Gabby Douglas, Jordyn Wieber and Jamie Dantzscher revealed that they were abused by Nassar, as well as former national team members Jeanette Antolin and Mattie Larson.
Larry Nassar, (pictured center), was imprisoned for 40 to 175 years in the state prison of Michigan after he was found guilty of seven counts of sexual abuse of minors
The FBI began investigating Nassar in July 2015 for allegations of sexual abuse of three gymnasts from the national team – McKayla Maroney (left) and Ally Raisman (right),
A settlement was paid to gold medal winning gymnast Maroney after she filed a lawsuit against USA Gymnastics last year.
The report found that the Olympic organizations concealed & # 39; deliberate abuse by Nassar, which led to the abuse of dozens of additional amateur athletes & # 39; between the summer of 2015 and 2016, according to the report.
The investigation showed that the Olympic Committee, the US Gymnastics and MSU all received more than a year of reports about the abuse of Nassar before action was taken.
& # 39; The ability of the Olympic organization to identify and prevent abuse was insufficient.
& # 39; As a result, hundreds of women and girls were sexually abused by Larry Nassar & # 39 ;, the report said.
Li Li Leung, president and CEO of USA Gymnastics, said in a statement that the organization & # 39; had already made many changes to prevent abuse from occurring & # 39 ;.
She added: & # 39; We have made it our top priority to become an athlete-focused organization that puts the safety and well-being of athletes first in everything we do. & # 39;
Maggie Nichols, (photo), came forward in 2018 to say that she & # 39; numerous occasions & # 39; was sexually abused and abused by Nassar.
Jeanette Antolin gives her victim impact statement at the Nassar hearing in January after being accused of molesting more than 100 girls while he was a physician for the US Gymnastics and Michigan State University
She said the organization & # 39; most recommendations in an independent, investigative evaluation of our policies and procedures for safe sport & # 39; will implement.
& # 39; We admire the courage and power of the survivors to share their stories, and our goal is to do everything we can to prevent it from happening again. & # 39;
An MSU spokesperson told NBC News that it was not aware of the abuse of Nassar until September 2016 and then fired Nassar within a few days.
& # 39; We know that we disappoint our community and survivors by not protecting them for years.
& # 39; In recent years, the university has invested time, financial resources, and staff to make improvements to our patient care, sexual abuse, and prevention of relationship violence, as well as responses to abuse. & # 39;
The FBI began investigating Nassar in July 2015 for allegations of sexual abuse by three gymnasts of the national team – McKayla Maroney, Ally Raisman and Maggie Nichols.
The congress report, however, found that the FBI did not prevent Nassar from seeing patients or protecting them in a safe way, since the investigation continued for more than a year because several field offices were responsible for handling.
Members of the US Senate and the victims of Nassar listen as a law to combat sexual abuse of young athletes is introduced in Capitol Hill in March 2017
Judge Rosemarie Aquilina speaks with Larry Nassar and his lawyer Shannon Smith while he appears in court to listen to the victim's statements of impact before being convicted
Blumenthal and Moran told NBC News that they were not satisfied with the answers to questions they had received from the FBI during their investigation.
According to NBC, they are waiting for the results of an investigation by the Ministry of Justice Inspector into how the FBI handled the case.
Blumenthal told NBC News: & # 39; I would say we have not received a satisfactory answer so far. I think we should be more demanding, like the American people, better answers. & # 39;
The FBI did not comment on NBC News and referred questions to the Inspector General's Justice Department.
The OIG office told NBC News that it does not comment on ongoing investigations.
Both senators told NBC News that they expect the findings of their investigation to potentially influence investigations by other agencies at a later date.
"There is absolutely fertile ground for additional criminal investigation here and as a former US prosecutor, federal prosecutor, I hope they will be executed vigorously," Blumenthal said. & # 39; There is a need for accountability here, not only to Congress but also to the criminal authorities. & # 39;
He added: & # 39; Larry Nassar … was far from a lonely wolf. He was hired by others and if they lied about it and if they obstructed the investigation, if they destroyed documents, they should be held responsible.
The scandal led to the resignation of the board and other officials at USA Gymnastics (USAG), the sport's governing body, after victims accused them of being slow to investigate allegations of abuse.
Former USAG officials said the National Olympic Committee was aware of sexual abuse in gymnastics more than two decades ago, but did little to address the issue.
Steve Penny, the former head of the US Gymnastics, who was one of the resignations, was arrested in October on federal allegations of tampering with evidence related to a Texas investigation into Nassar.
The new bill will give Congress the power to dissolve the board of the US Olympic Committee and to certify national governing bodies if they fail to protect athletes.
The Empowering Olympic and Amateur Athletes Act would also impose greater legal liability on both the USOPC and national governing bodies that oversee amateur sports for acts such as sexual abuse by coaches and employees.
& # 39; This should enable and encourage athletes who should feel they can come forward without fear of retribution and without intimidation & # 39 ;, said Democrat Richard Blumenthal in a conference call about the bill he and the Republican Jerry Moran sponsored.
The bill gives Congress the power to dissolve the US Olympic Committee's committee and to certify national governing bodies if they fail to protect athletes.
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