Three of USA Gymnastics’ top leaders resign over Larry Nassar scandal as victims speak out
US Olympics champion Simone Biles is among those who have revealed that they were abused by US Gymnastics’ predatory team doctor
Three of the top members of the board of directors of USA Gymnastics resigned on Monday, as girls and women continue to make powerful statements describing in detail how they were abused by the organisation’s former team doctor.
Chairman Paul Parilla, vice-chairman Jay Binder and treasurer Bitsy Kelley submitted their resignations effective immediately.
“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 organisation,” USA Gymnastics president Kerry Perry said in a statement.
Larry Nassar, the long-time US team doctor, has been sentenced to 60 years in prison for child pornography and faces a minimum sentence of 25 to 40 years in prison on the molestation charges. He has admitted molesting athletes while he was employed by Michigan State and USA Gymnastics.
His sentencing hearing, which is continuing, has drawn strong statements from Olympic champions Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney, Gabby Douglas and Jordyn Wieber, describing in vivid detail his abuse and the impact it has had on their lives.
The women also accused the organisation of being slow to make changes to protect young gymnasts.
On Monday, the presiding judge called the victims an “army” and “sister survivor warriors.”
Nearly 100 victim statements have been given by women who say Nassar was assaulting them while pretending to offer medical treatment.
“Most of you know me as a happy, giggly, and energetic girl. But lately … I’ve felt a bit broken,” Biles, one of the most decorated gymnasts in Olympic history, wrote in a statement last week. “I am not afraid to tell my story any more.”
Biles’s statement implied her abuse was similar to allegations made in lawsuits and public statements by more than 140 women, who accused Nassar of probing and fondling without gloves, warning or permission.
Before Nassar pleaded guilty to a series of sex crimes late last year, both he and his lawyers denied the allegations and maintained he was providing legitimate pain therapy.
“It is not normal to receive any type of treatment from a trusted team doctor and refer to it horrifyingly as the ‘special’ treatment,” Biles wrote.
“This behaviour is completely unacceptable, disgusting, and abusive, especially coming from someone whom I was TOLD to trust.”
“For too long I’ve asked myself, ‘Was I too naive? Was it my fault?’” she wrote. “I now know the answer to those questions. No. No, it was not my fault. No, I will not and should not carry the guilt that belongs to Larry Nassar, USAG and others.”
Raisman tweeted that she would not attend the sentencing “because it is too traumatic” but added that a letter will be read in court on her behalf.
“I support the brave survivors,” she wrote. “We are all in this together.”