USA Gymnastics announced today that it has established a fund for gymnasts who have been sexually abused within the sport, which will give financial support to victims who wish to receive counseling. According to USA Gymnastics, gymnasts and their families will be able to contact the fund confidentially through a toll-free phone number, with the logistics of the money and services administered through an independent third party.
The fund is far from full-on restitution, is fairly limited in scope, and there’s very little in the press release about how it will work. The press release does not name the third-party administrator, does not say how much victims will get, does not say how the process for getting the support will work, or even address how long the fund will last, noting simply that “more information ... will be available in the coming days.”
But that USA Gymnastics would even take this step—as clearly as it is about public relations—speaks to the pressure it’s under as so many gymnasts argue, rightfully so, that the organization needs to be burned down. In the wake of Larry Nassar’s sentencing hearings for criminal sexual conduct, and the victim-impact statements provided by more than 150 women in Michigan courtrooms, the entire USA Gymnastics board has resigned.
Even though Larry Nassar will now spend the rest of his life in prison, this is just the start. There are multiple lawsuits ongoing against USAG which say that the organization enabled or silenced complaints about abuse, and investigators have taken documents from Michigan State, as they try to suss out what Nassar’s employer knew. The significant delay in the FBI taking action has come up too. As much as USAG’s leadership would like the questions to stop, they have just begun.