America's most famed gymnastic coaches were accused in a lawsuit Thursday of "turning a blind eye" to sexual abuse at their training center in Texas.
To many, Mike McQueary was a hero - the lone member of the Pennsylvania State University athletics staff to speak up in a bid to stop Jerry Sandusky's sexual abuse of children.
Yet within pockets of Nittany Lion fandom, he remains a pariah - the assistant coach whose testimony against the serial predator put his entire community on trial and helped tarnish the reputation of its iconic coach, Joe Paterno.
“The continued exposure and continued claims just further demonstrate that USA Gymnastics has not made it a priority and is not taking it seriously and is unresponsive,” former National Team member Jessica Armstrong said. “And that’s really, really disappointing.”
"Hastert inflicted unbelievable pain on the lives of the youth he was entrusted to care for, yet he got a slap on the wrist," Cross told the Tribune on Monday. "As hard as it is to continue to live through the events of the past, the laws in Illinois — and across the country — have to change.
Vermont Academy fired an assistant dean in 2007 for allegedly propositioning a 16-year-old female student in lewd text messages. Yet the boarding school still produced three recommendations for its former employee, and he landed a job months later at Wesleyan University in Connecticut — overseeing student sexual misconduct hearings.
Brooks School in North Andover kicked a former admissions officer out of her campus residence in 1993 after she was accused of sexual misconduct with a male student. Even after her banishment — and Brooks’s $300,000 settlement with the student and his family — the admissions officer held jobs at two more private schools in Massachusetts.
And at Emma Willard School, a private school in Troy, N.Y., a teacher was fired in 1998 after he allegedly raped a student. But the school still wrote him two recommendations, and he later found a job at a private school in Connecticut.
It took me years to forgive my own family, but I’m telling my story now
Considering how many medals U.S.A. Gymnastics brought home from the Rio Games — an amazing 12, including Simone Biles’s three individual golds and the women’s team gold — the federation’s post-Olympics glow should be brighter than ever.
A 36-city tour starring Biles and other standouts is starting Thursday in Spokane, Wash. A rush of money is pouring into the sport. After every Summer Games, gyms typically see a bump in enrollment because kids, including my 4-year-old, watched the Olympics and want to do what their new heroes do.
It’s usually a happy time. But this year is anything but usual: Reports of sexual abuse in the sport, published before and since the Games, are reminders that gymnastics is not solid gold.
The first report, published in August by The Indianapolis Star, revealed that U.S.A. Gymnastics had kept files of complaints involving more than 50 coaches suspected of abusing athletes, yet in many cases failed to alert law enforcement of possible wrongdoing.
“No matter what happens in your life and no matter where you come from if you believe in yourself and you work hard, there is no dream too big, there is nothing that you cannot accomplish and I am living proof of that. So go get your dream,” said the only gold medal winner in Olympic judo from the U.S.
We can all probably agree that protecting children from sex offenders should be the number one priority for organizations that routinely expose children to close contact with adults. Allegations of predatory sexual behavior should always be investigated or at least reported to authorities with appropriate expertise to investigate them. All fifty states even provide immunity from suit for good faith reports of child sexual victimization. What, then, explains the behavior of one of the most well-respected and well-known such organizations in their abject failure to protect young gymnasts from becoming victims of such predators?
Kayla Harrison looked up at the judge in front of her and told him that she no longer knew how to be a child.
Harrison, then just 17, had sandwiched herself between her mother and grandmother in the Ohio courtroom, refusing to glance in the direction of her former judo coach, Daniel Doyle.
She spoke slowly and surely about the 33-year-old Doyle. She detailed how he had poisoned her passion for the sport. How he had sullied every inch of her life for years. How she had became undeniably suicidal.
When she was done, she turned on her heels and left not only the courthouse, but also the state and the life she knew, saying goodbye to her home, her training gym and Doyle, the coach whom she had trusted unequivocally ― and the man who had spent the past several years sexually abusing her.
Over the years I have been the beneficiary of this woman's fierce truth, her strength, and her kindness. She has been a friend offering comfort when needed and an inspiration fueling the fire to move this project forward. In light of the attention given to USA Gymnastics failures (and worse) she told her story to espnW. It is with respect, love and admiration that I share her story here, knowing how great an impact it can and will have on those who may feel that they are lost, or alone. -- Chris Gavagan, dir. Coached into Silence
‘Former gymnast felt compelled to share her ordeal...in the hopes that her story, when added to the voices of other young women, can help to enact change.'
USA Gymnastics touts a list of coaches it has banned as a key safeguard to warn gym owners and parents about dangers, including sexual predators.
And to protect young gymnasts.
But an IndyStar investigation has uncovered one example after another of coaches who were not only suspected of abuse, but actually convicted of molesting children, yet they did not show up on the banned coaches list for years — even decades — after that conviction.
Abuse can be inflicted by coaches, adult volunteers, staff members or teammates. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security because a coach is nice. Individuals who sexually abuse children often know they need to create a sense of safety and trust with the people around them, so that concerns are dismissed.
Top executives at one of America’s most prominent Olympic organizations failed to alert authorities to many allegations of sexual abuse by coaches — relying on a policy that enabled predators to abuse gymnasts long after USA Gymnastics had received warnings.
An IndyStar investigation uncovered multiple examples of children suffering the consequences, including a Georgia case in which a coach preyed on young female athletes for seven years after USA Gymnastics dismissed the first of four warnings about him.