Three USA Gymnastics board members resign in wake of sex abuse scandal

January 22, 2018

By Keith Coffman

(Reuters) – Three USA Gymnastics board members resigned on Monday in the wake of its former team physician sexually abusing female gymnasts, a step the organization said would support its reform efforts.

USA Gymnastics has been criticized by several of the sport’s top gymnasts during the sentencing hearing of former team doctor Larry Nassar who pleaded guilty in November to 10 counts of molesting female gymnasts. About 160 victims were expected to make statements in Ingham County Circuit Court in Lansing, Michigan.

The resignations include the board chairman Paul Parilla, vice chairman Jay Binder and treasurer Bitsy Kelley, who comprise the gymnastics governing body’s executive leadership team, USA Gymnastics said in a statement.

“We believe this step will allow us to more effectively move forward in implementing change within our organization,” the body said.

“We remain focused on working every day to ensure that our culture, policies and actions reflect our commitment to those we serve,” it said.

Prosecutors have asked for a sentence of 40 to 125 years for Nassar, 54, who was also a prominent physician at a Michigan State University sports clinic. Nassar is already serving a 60-year sentence in federal prison on child pornography convictions.

On Thursday, USA Gymnastics terminated its agreement with the Karolyi Ranch in Huntsville, Texas, where a number of top gymnasts said they were victims of Nassar’s sexual abuse. The facility had been used for regular training camps.

Last March, USA Gymnastics President and Chief Executive Steve Penny resigned as the organization was criticized for how it handled complaints about Nassar.

On Friday, Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman blasted U.S. gymnastics officials for failing to protect her and other women from years of sexual abuse, calling the governing body “rotten from the inside.”

Raisman, co-captain of the U.S. women’s gymnastics squad at the 2012 London and 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Games, called for an independent investigation into U.S. gymnastics and Olympic officials who she said had the power to stop Nassar.

“It’s clear now that if we leave it up to these organizations, history is likely to repeat itself,” Raisman, 23, said, referring to USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee.

USA Gymnastics also said in the Monday statement it will work to promote athlete safety and prevent future abuse by adopting and enforcing its new “safe sport” policy that more clearly defines misconduct and prevents inappropriate interaction.

(Reporting by Keith Coffman; Editing by Grant McCool and Cynthia Osterman)

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