The Indianapolis Star has been on the story of rampant sexual abuse among USA Gymnastics coaches for a long time now, and at their request a judge just released more than 5,600 pages of documents related to the investigation.
Some of it, as you might expect, is downright horrifying.
For example, there appear to be two coaches who were convicted of molesting children yet allowed to remain active in the sport:
Some of the files USA Gymnastics compiled on member coaches were more than 300 pages long, spanning more than a decade, and others were as brief as five pages.
The names of 17 of the coaches were redacted, including two who appear to have been criminally convicted but not banned from the sport. The court prohibited the release of the names of coaches who had not been criminally convicted, as well as the names of victims, gyms and people making reports about coaches.
In other cases, coaches defended themselves against accusations by levying blame at rival gyms or organizations:
Some coaches named in the files argued strenuously to retain their membership, sometimes threatening legal action. One coach dismissed the allegations against him as a “witch hunt” and lies perpetrated by a competing gym, only to be later convicted of molesting young gymnasts.
The scope of the horror here is almost impossible to overstate.
One file included a letter that said a USA Gymnastics regional chairman spoke with the organization’s former president, Robert Colarossi, in support of allowing a convicted sex offender to keep his membership. That coach was eventually banned.
He’d already been convicted, and a higher-up in USA Gymnastics was arguing for him to stay. No word on what happened to that regional chairman.
In another case, USA Gymnastics conducted a lengthy investigation into a coach suspected of abuse and concluded he “exhibited a pattern of behavior with regards to inappropriate touching of students” but decided to put him on probation rather than terminating his membership.
Court records indicate that coach molested young gymnasts while on probation. He was charged by police, banned by USA Gymnastics and later pleaded guilty.
This investigation has, at least, done some good already:
The investigation also emboldened more than 80 people to come forward with allegations of sexual abuse against longtime USA Gymnastics team physician Dr. Larry Nassar. Nassar, who is facing criminal charges, has denied wrongdoing.
The documents show that the Indianapolis-based national governing body long employed a policy of requiring sexual misconduct complaints to be signed by a victim, victim’s parent or eyewitness to the alleged abuse.
But that this sort of systemic abuse was ignored (and there are a few instances here where it seems as though it was even tolerated) for so long is a massive failure. Kudos to the Star for their ongoing work on this investigation, and hopefully some sort of justice can be levied.
And, most importantly, hopefully there aren’t any more victims.