Hundreds of Children Gymnasts Sexually Abused While with USA Gymnastics

In the wake of the British soccer sex abuse scandal, 368 cases of child sex abuse related to USA Gymnastics in the last 20 years came to light this week. USA Gymnastics is the national governing body for gymnastics in the United States and one of the nation’s most prominent Olympic organizations.

A detailed Indianapolis Star-USA Today report found all the typical problems found in an institution that allowed children to be abused: cover up, denial, lack of accountability, and protection of the brand over the safety of kids. Specific problems include:

  • Conflicts of interests, with gym owners reluctant to report abuse public knowledge would be bad for business.
  • No tracking system of officials or coaches that have been fired from gyms, making it commonplace for offenders to move around to different gyms or different states.
  • USA Gymnastics focusses more on education to prevent abuse than on enforcing rules prohibiting abuse.

The report states:

All told, 115 adults at every level of the sport, from respected Olympic mentors to novices working with recreational gymnasts, were accused. The alleged abuse happened in every part of the U.S. — from Maine to California, Washington to Florida, and across the Midwest. . . .

Other victims included casual athletes and elite-level performers such as Olympians. They were teenagers and preteens. The youngest was 6. Almost all of them were girls.

They encountered the men accused of abusing them everywhere from a Rhode Island YMCA to the famous Karolyi Ranch in Texas, where USA Gymnastics sends its top female athletes to train.

The abuse was widespread and systemic, just as in cases involving other institutions of public trust such as the Boy Scouts, the Mormon Church, and the Catholic Church. We suspect this is just the tip of the iceberg as undoubtedly more survivors will come forward. We deserve to be heard, believed, and treated with respect.

Dumas Law Group has law offices in Portland, Oregon and serves clients in Oregon, Washington, California, and other states.

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