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A class action lawsuit filed by more than 50 plaintiffs accuses the U.S. Olympic Committee and its governing board of failing to prevent sexual assaults by former gymnastics coach Larry Nassar and other coaches, who have abused hundreds of athletes over the years.
The complaint (PDF) was filed this month in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado by 51 plaintiffs, mostly anonymous and only identified as Jane Doe’s. The United States Olympic Committee (USOC), Nassar, and a number of directors of USOC were named as defendants.
The lawsuit indicates that since the 1980s, about 290 Olympic coaches and officials have been convicted of sex abuse charges involving minors, yet the USOC and its national governing board (NGB) failed to implement adequate plans to protect young athletes from abuse.
“Given this history, the USOC, its Officers and Directors were empowered by Congress to prevent the crimes which are at the heart of the Nassar Scandal and other USOC/USAG Coaches,” the lawsuit states. “Given the painful history of adult authority figures in amateur athletics committing sexual violence against young athletes under their supervision and Defendants’ utter disregard of this national disgrace, the Nassar Scandal, and other coach abuse, was predictable and hence preventable.”
Nassar, a former USA Gymnastics national team doctor from Michigan State University, was convicted to up to 175 years in prison in July 2017 and February 2018 after he plead guilty to a total of 10 counts of sexual assault on minors. He is suspected of having molested at least 250 athletes.
In December, a U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee investigation concluded that the U.S. Olympic Committee prioritized its reputation and image over the safety of its child athletes.
Similar findings were published by an independent investigation group hired by USOC. Those investigators reported that they found that Nassar was able to commit thousands of sexual assaults due to an environment that allowed his predatory nature to thrive.
The U.S. Olympic athletes class action lawsuit accuses USOC of sex discrimination, violations of bodily integrity, failure to train and supervise, violation of the Safe Sport Act, negligence, gross negligence, and other claims.
Court Documents Reveal Team Olympic Apathy Toward Sexual Abuse Complaints
Recent court documents indicate that former USA Gymnastics (USAG) President Kathy Scanlan said she told the committee of abuse issues during her term from 1994 to 1998, but very little action was taken.
Scanlan’s testimony claims that she published the names of USAG members who were fired due to suspicions of abuse in USA Gymnastics magazine when she got no help from the Olympic committee.
Bob Colarossi, who became USAG president after Scanlan, also said he tried to address problems and sent a letter to USOC in 1999, warning that the safety procedures to prevent abuse were inadequate.
USOC has officially filed a complaint seeking to remove USAG’s status as the governing group overseeing the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team.
However, there have also been a number of sexual abuse lawsuits brought against USA Diving for alleged incidents of assault by coaches in that Olympic sport as well.