Two American gymnasts, one of whom won a medal at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, recently filed suit, claiming that the team doctor sexually assaulted and molested them. The medal-winning victim is identified only as Jane J.D. Doe. The second is Rachael Denhollander, who was 15 at the time of the allegations. As defendants, the suit lists the physician, USA Gymnastics, and various coaches and trainers. The suit alleges that the team doctor, Dr. Larry Nassar (53), groped Doe’s private parts when he said he was performing osteopathic therapy. According to Doe, the doctor performed what he called an “inter-vaginal adjustment.” The medical community does not recognize such a procedure. Denhollander alleged that Nassar would massage her breasts and penetrate her vagina with his fingers without gloves while examining her at Michigan State University, where Dr. Nassar is a faculty member. What’s more, the lawsuit alleges that USA Gymnastics breached its obligation to report the abuse to law enforcement, the U.S. Olympic Committee, and the victims’ families.
Doe’s attorney stated that the Olympian sacrificed her youth by spending hours of rigorous training to bring glory to her country. She trusted USA Gymnastics and its coaches and staff to protect her.
This is not the first time USA Gymnastics has been accused of abusing child athletes. Doe’s attorney said that the organization has proven numerous times that it cares more about protecting its reputation than the young athletes entrusted to its care. He expressed a belief that Doe and Denhollander are not the only victims and that others will soon be brought to light.
In a recent investigation by the Indianapolis Star, several cases of molestation by USA Gymnastics were discovered. Each had either been dismissed or not reported. The investigation prompted four U.S. senators to urge USA Gymnastics to take immediate action to ensure that allegations of abuse are reported so that child athletes are safe.
In a 2013 lawsuit filed by one of Dr. Nassar’s victims, two former USA Gymnastics officials testified under oath that the organization regularly dismisses allegations of sexual abuse unless they come directly from the victim or a parent of the victim. Dr. Nassar apparently worked for USA Gymnastics for 29 years before being let go last year.
The Indianapolis Star investigation explained that child advocates and legal experts have been concerned about USA Gymnastics’ treatment of sexual abuse, particularly given that state laws require people to report incidents of child abuse.
The plaintiffs seek monetary compensation as well as a court-appointed monitor to protect children participating in USA Gymnastics programs. In light of the US victories in the 2016 Olympic Games, the Doe’s attorney told the Northern California Record that it’s very upsetting that USA Gymnastics has a long history of sexual abuse that must be exposed and ended.
Nassar’s lawyer has indicated that the doctor denies any wrongdoing.
The sexual assault lawyers at the Neumann Law Group represent victims of accidents and assaults throughout the Los Angeles area. Call us at (213) 227-0001 for a free consultation.
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