By Gina Cherelus
(Reuters) – The United States Olympic Committee was informed of sexual abuse in gymnastics more than two decades ago, long before the sexual abuse by former national team doctor Larry Nassar became a high-profile scandal, according to federal court filings.
In a statement included in filings at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Wednesday, former USA Gymnastics (USAG) President Kathy Scanlan said during her tenure from 1994 to 1998 she had notified the committee of sexual abuse within the organisation soon after she took charge, but “little was done” to address the issue.
Scanlan testified she had helped enact national policies to protect children including publishing names of terminated members in USA Gymnastics magazine, according to the new filings included in a March lawsuit filed by Aly Raisman, the three-time Olympic gold medalist who is suing Nassar, the USOC, USAG and others for serial sexual abuse.
A representative for the USOC did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.
USAG has been in turmoil over the past two years since dozens of female gymnasts, including Olympic champions Raisman, McKayla Maroney, Gabby Douglas and Simone Biles, came forward to accuse Nassar of sexual abuse.
Nassar was sentenced in February to up to 125 years in prison after some 200 women testified about abuse at his hands. The scandal prompted the entire board of directors at USA Gymnastics to resign, along with the president and athletic director at Michigan State University, where Nassar also worked.
It has also sparked several lawsuits and criminal and civil investigations.
Scanlan’s successor Bob Colarossi, who was USAG president from 1998 to 2005, also testified that he had addressed the sexual misconduct issues with the USOC, according to the court documents filed on Wednesday.
Colarossi noted in a 1999 letter sent to the USOC that the USAG’s safety procedures regarding the abuse of minor athletes by their doctors and coaches were a “fundamentally flawed process” and the committee had an “apparent indifference to the welfare of young children.”
The USOC recently filed a complaint seeking to revoke USAG’s status as a national governing body for the sport following the sexual abuse by Nassar.
The committee said USAG had replied to its complaint and had chosen not to relinquish its recognition, instead asking questions about the matter and the USOC hearing process.
(Reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York; Editing by Richard Chang)