After a mountain of sexual abuse claims were leveled against former Olympics gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, it seemed less a question of if USA Gymnastics was going to go out of business, but when. We’re a bit closer to knowing the answer to that question now because the organization has filed for bankruptcy. (NBC News)
A lawyer for 180 alleged victims called the bankruptcy filing the “inevitable result of the inability of this organization” to protect athletes from abuse.
Facing a mountain of lawsuits over the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal, USA Gymnastics filed for bankruptcy Wednesday.
The beleaguered organization has been beset by financial struggles, leadership turnover and arrests as it has sought to contain a scandal sparked by Nassar, the longtime team doctor accused of molesting hundreds of young women and girls.
“We owe it to the survivors to resolve, fully and finally, claims based on the horrific acts of the past and, through this process, seek to expedite resolution and help them move forward,” said Kathryn Carson, who was recently elected chair of the USA Gymnastics Board of Directors.
The attorney representing 180 of Nassar’s victims described USA Gymnastics as having proven themselves to be “morally and financially bankrupt,” which seems an odd choice of words for such a serious matter. But he’s definitely got a point.
In the early days of the scandal, I actually had some sympathy for USA Gymnastics. If we were to believe that Nassar was basically a lone wolf, preying on young women and girls and somehow hiding it from the group’s leadership, then it seemed unfair that everyone else involved with the program would have to go down with the ship. But as more details emerged it became apparent that the entire outfit had serious problems, even if Nassar was the only one physically molesting the children.
Keep in mind that Steve Penny, the former USA Gymnastics president, was arrested for tampering with evidence after it was revealed that he had removed and hidden documents the prosecutors were looking for. And it wasn’t a few isolated cases being covered up, either. Michigan State wound up having to settle abuse cases with 332 victims back in May.
If upon learning of the accusations against Nassar, the organization’s leadership had basically thrown open their doors, fallen to their knees and asked forgiveness because they didn’t know there was a monster in their midst, it’s possible that the public would have been more forgiving. Maybe. But they didn’t do that. They worked to obfuscate and thwart the efforts of investigators. Whether that was out of loyalty to Nassar, doubts about the accusations or simply an effort to protect the reputation of USA Gymnastics doesn’t really matter at this point. They were clearly not working on the side of the young women and children who were placed under their charge.
This outfit needs to go into the dustbin of history. Moving forward, any groups dealing with the training of our country’s Olympic athletes need to be far more vigilant in their screening process. And particularly when it comes to the female athletes, couldn’t they all find female doctors to perform these services? It would at least cut down on the possibility of perverted monsters finding a home with them in such a position of authority.