In a rare show of bipartisanship, Republicans and Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee sent a letter to Kerry Perry, the president and CEO of USA Gymnastics informing her that the committee has begun an investigation into the organization’s failure to protect young gymnasts from sexual assault.
“Sexual assault should never be tolerated, but when it does occur, it is imperative that swift and immediate action be taken to stop the abuse, prevent it from recurring, and address its effects,” said the Feb. 8 letter, signed by Chairman Harold W. “Trey” Gowdy III (R.-S.C.) and the ranking Democrat, Maryland’s Rep. Ellijah E. Cummings.
“One of the most disturbing aspects of the survivors’ accounts is how this reprehensible conduct went undetected or ignored for years,” the letter said. “Coaches, instructors, law enforcement, and other trusted adults all failed these young athletes.”
In January, the longtime USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to hundreds of years in prison for sexually assaulting and molesting young female gymnasts under the appalling pretense of medical care.
During the sentencing phase of the trial, 216 female gymnasts confronted the doctor and detailed for the court how Nassar violated them.
The letter told Perry that the committee was motivated by the failure of its systems and procedures.
“USA Gymnastics, the national governing body for the sport in the United States, is at the center of many of these failures,” the letter said.
“The Committee seeks to better understand USA Gymnastics’ responsibility to its gymnastics clubs and gyms, its policies and procedures on sexual assault, and the actions it plans to take in response to this pervasive sexual abuse within the sport,” the letter said.
"One of the most disturbing aspects of the survivors' accounts is how this reprehensible conduct went undetected or ignored for years. Coaches, instructors, law enforcement, and other trusted adults all failed these young athletes."https://t.co/iTAhBHnHWC
— Oversight Committee (@GOPoversight) February 8, 2018
The committee’s letter came a day after USA Gymnastics announced it was had created a fund to support Nassar’s victims.
“The National Gymnastics Foundation is hopeful that the newly established Athlete Assistance Fund will provide much-needed support for our incredible athletes who have had these devastating experiences,” said the foundation’s board of directors in their statement.
“This will help them get through some of the most difficult days of their lives. Our athletes are some of the most impressive young people in all the world. We respect and admire them greatly,” the foundation said. “To the absolute best of our ability, the entire gymnastics community is there for them.”