The parents of a former elite-level gymnast are suing the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics for their part in an “orchestrated scheme ... to suppress and conceal their knowledge of know sexual abusers in the USAG program, including Dr. Larry Nassar.” The lawsuit is the first to name the Olympic committee and claim they too are responsible for what ultimately lead to more than 100 people saying they were sexually abused by the ex-national team doctor under the guise of receiving treatment. It also goes into the idea that those in authority nationally hid allegations against people like Nassar because they wanted to avoid government oversight and keep money flowing.
The lawsuit was filed June 30 in Los Angeles Superior court; it was first reported today by the Wall Street Journal.
The plaintiffs, represented by John Manly and Gloria Allred, are asking for unspecified amount in damages for negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and four other civil claims. The pair did not use their names, going by Jane PCNE Doe and John PCNM Doe, nor their daughter. In the complaint they say that the USOC and USAG “knew or should have known” about Nassar’s alleged abusive tendencies and acted prior to the their daughter’s report of abuse to them in July 2015.
The complaint says that Nassar digitally penetrated the minor gymnast and tried to disguise the abuse as a medical procedure, mirroring dozens of previous reports from previous and current USAG and Michigan State athletes. Nassar, per the lawsuit, repeated the method of abuse numerous times until the gymnast told her parents about it in 2015. The abuse took place in California, at the infamous Karolyi ranch, and at “other locations across the United States and internationally” where the USAG and USOC held events that included Nassar, according to the complaint.
The lawsuit claims the two organizations “stood in loco parentis,” meaning they believe the USOC and USAG had a “special duty of care” regarding their daughter—a minor at the time of the abuse—when she attended team workouts, camps, and competitions.
The suit also includes a number of claims not yet mentioned against the USAG or USOC in previous lawsuits. The complaint contains references to gender discrimination as a possible reason behind Nassar’s repeated abuse—multiple times, the plaintiffs’ lawyers write that the sexual abuse carried out by Nassar “was based upon Plaintiffs’ daughter’s gender.”
The lawsuit goes on to say that the USAG opted not to act on allegations voiced against Nassar due to its desire to keep cash flowing in from private donors. A rash of bad publicity would slow its external financial contributions and bring about increased government oversight, the lawsuit says.
It also highlights the USAG’s use of its Permanently Ineligible Members list—a list naming former members banned for varying assault, abuse, and harassment-related incidents—as proof that the governing body understood the reach of potential child abuse within its own ranks. And yet it was not properly responding to “the risk that minor gymnastics participants were placed at.”
The USOC and USAG offered the following responses to the WSJ, respectively, neither of which address the contents of the lawsuit:
“The allegations surrounding Nassar are astounding and heartbreaking,” he said in a statement. “We were not made aware of them until Nassar had already been reported to law enforcement. We will support any and all efforts to shine a light on the facts and to identify and address any systemic failures that contributed to the abuse that was suffered by these young women.”
A spokeswoman for USA Gymnastics said, “This is the first USA Gymnastics has heard of this lawsuit and declines to comment further.”
The full lawsuit can be found below. If you know anything more about this case, contact us.