Three of the top members of the board of directors of USA Gymnastics resigned Monday, as girls and women continued to make powerful statements describing in detail how they were abused by Larry Nassar, the organization’s former team physician.
Chairman Paul Parilla, vice chairman Jay Binder and treasurer Bitsy Kelley submitted their resignations from USA Gymnastics’ board of directors immediately, the organization announced in a news release. “We support their decisions to resign at this time. We believe this step will allow us to more effectively move forward in implementing change within our organization,” USA Gymnastics president Kerry Perry said in a statement.
Nassar, the longtime physician for USA Gymnastics’ women’s team, has been sentenced to 60 years in prison on child pornography charges and faces a minimum sentence of 25 to 40 years on molestation charges. He has admitted molesting athletes while he was employed by Michigan State and USA Gymnastics. His sentencing hearing, which is ongoing, has drawn strong statements from more than 100 girls and women who’ve said Nassar assaulted them, including Olympic champions Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney, and Jordyn Wieber, describing in vivid detail his abuse and the impact it has had on their lives. The women also accused the organization of being slow to make changes to protect young gymnasts.
Nearly 100 victim statements have been given by women who say Nassar assaulted them while pretending to offer medical treatment. The sentencing hearing, which could conclude Tuesday, has drawn renewed attention to how officials at Michigan State and USA Gymnastics may have missed opportunities to stop Nassar’s abuse earlier. Last March, previous USA Gymnastics chief executive Steve Penny resigned amid rising criticism over his handling of a 2015 complaint about Nassar. After waiting five weeks, USA Gymnastics reported Nassar to the FBI, but didn’t inform officials at Michigan State or at local clubs where Nassar continued to work until September 2016.
In a statement Monday, United States Olympic chief executive Scott Blackmun expressed support for the resignations.
“New board leadership is necessary because the current leaders have been focused on establishing that they did nothing wrong. USA Gymnastics needs to focus on supporting the brave survivors,” Blackmun said. “The Olympic family failed these athletes and we must continue to take every step necessary to ensure this never happens again.”
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