New evidence has surfaced that seems to confirm that the USA Gymnastics organization covered up Larry Nassar’s serial abuse of young gymnasts.
Emails obtained by The Indianapolis Star show that in two different instances, Nassar and the USA Gymnastics attorney coordinated "false excuses" — one which claimed that Nassar was ill, and another that he was working on his private practice — as reasons why he was not attending two big events in 2015 ahead of the 2016 Olympics.
In reality, Nassar was being investigated for child sexual abuse, but rather than admit that to athletes and their parents, the organization made up lies.
In one particular email, attorney Scott D. Himsel notified Nassar that he was under investigation and stated “it is in everyone’s best interest” that Nassar skip the event that was approaching that weekend.
Himsel noted that the organization would tell everyone that Nassar was absent due to “personal reasons.” However, Nassar asked, “Can we just say that I am sick? That would make more sense to everyone. Would that be ok?”
In his response, Himsel agreed to using Nassar’s preferred excuse.
While the inaction of USA Gymnastics has been condemned since Nassar’s abuse first came to light, the email proof of the organization's willingness to play along with his deceptive tactics is troubling. This revelation indicates that the organization valued Nassar’s reputation more than the trauma and pain of his many victims.
Furthermore, their leniency during the investigation contributed to Nassar getting away with his abuse for so long. Case in point: His reputation remained in good standing for more than a year after USA Gymnastics first reported the disgraced physician to the FBI because they failed to be transparent and allowed him to continue working with athletes during the probe.
Although he stopped working as the national team doctor, he was able to continue working in at least one USA Gymnastics member gym located in Michigan, and he continued working at Michigan State University. During this time, he was also able to continue racking up victims.
At least 14 additional women and girls claimed they were sexually assaulted by Nassar after June 2015, which is when USA Gymnastics received its supposed first complaint about him.
“These facts are stunning,” said Marci Hamilton, CEO and academic director at CHILD USA, an interdisciplinary think tank focused on preventing child abuse and neglect. “Any organization that serves youth and has notice that there is an abusive adult dealing with the organization’s youth has a duty to protect those children. USAG’s failure to notify the athletes when they knew he was suspended and under investigation is reckless.”
“Reckless” is an understatement.
The organization must be held accountable for failing its athletes and violating the trust of the gymnasts and their parents.
Banner/Thumbnail Credits: REUTERS/Rebecca Cook