Tomorrow is the opening ceremony for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Today, the Indianapolis Star published an investigation into systemic sex abuse inside USA Gymnastics (USAG), one of the flagship athletic organizations behind this year’s American Olympians. The Star, part of the USA Today Network, found that top gymnastics executives have, for years, failed to report coaches accused of sexually assaulting girls within the organization, a sprawling body of 121,000 athletes and 3,000 gyms.
Using court records and the organization’s internal dossiers, the Star identified at least 50 different coaches who had been accused of sexual misconduct. USAG, which has large corporate sponsors and a growing membership, says it didn’t turn the coaches over to police because the complaints didn’t always come from victims themselves, but usually from other coaches at gyms around the country. The sexual predators have been able to travel the country with impunity.
“USAG failed at this,” said Lisa Ganser, whose daughter filed a lawsuit in Georgia after the organization dismissed complaints about her coach for seven years after multiple warnings. “USA Gymnastics had enough information, I think, to have done something about this. It didn’t have to happen to my daughter, and it didn’t have to happen to other little girls.”