Three USA Gymnastics officials have resigned and one has been suspended amid claims that the organization tolerated and even possibly protected convicted serial sexual abuser and Olympic team doctor, Larry Nassar.
Nassar is scheduled to be sentenced this week, after pleading guilty to sexually abusing at least four women in his care. More than a hundred other women, including gymnastics stars Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, and Aly Reisman, have given victim impact statements at Nassar's sentencing, revealing that they, too, were sexually abused under the guise of receiving medical treatment from Nassar.
As Nassar's trial has progressed, however, many have wondered how the team doctor was able to abuse women for nearly two decades without repercussions from either the USA Gymnastics organization or Michigan State University, where Nassar was based when not treating elite athletes. Only chief executive Steve Penny paid a price, forced out amid allegations that he ignored complaints about Nassar for years.
On Tuesday, USA Gymnastics Chairman Paul Parilla, Vice Chairman Jay Binder, and Treasurer Bitsy Kelley all submitted their resignations, according to NBC News. Olympic officials revealed that Parilla was "asked to step down at a Jan. 11 board meeting in Colorado." The others quickly followed suit.
"We support their decisions to resign at this time," USA Gymnastics' current president and CEO, Kerry Perry, told the news network. "We believe this step will allow us to more effectively move forward in implementing change within our organization.
"As the board identifies its next chair and fills the vacant board positions, we remain focused on working every day to ensure that our culture, policies and actions reflect our commitment to those we serve."
The resignations won't insulate USA Gymnastics from what appears to be an inevitable class action lawsuit on the part of more than 100 gymnasts. Lawyers for the gymnasts — many of whom are the same women giving victim impact statements this week at Nassar's sentencing — told NBC that they believe USA Gymnastics completely mishandled sexual assault allegations, inaction which led to more women being abused.
"The organization, which selects the national and Olympic teams, is accused of trying to keep a lid on the scandal — waiting five weeks to alert the FBI to a gymnast's complaint; failing to notify Michigan State University, where Nassar had a practice, that one of its doctors had been accused; and having Maroney sign a secrecy agreement as part of a settlement," NBC reported.
On Monday, USA Gymnastics also announced it was "severing ties" with Karolyi Ranch, the Texas gymnastics facility where elite and Olympic-bound athletes have been training for the last several decades — but also where Nassar had access to some of the nation's top gymnasts. That move wasn't as courageous; the Karolyis fielded their final Olympic team in 2016.