USA Gymnastics — the organization that oversees the U.S. Olympic gymnastics program as well as dozens of other gymnastics training programs nationwide — has declared bankruptcy and is in the process of “reorganization” following years of allegations that the group ignored, and in some cases covered up, of widespread sex abuse.
ESPN reports that the group filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday.
“The national governing body for gymnastics said it hopes this latest move will allow for an expedited process in handling dozens of civil lawsuits related to the sexual abuse perpetrated by [Larry] Nassar, the former national medical coordinator who was convicted of assaulting patients under the guise of medical treatment,” ESPN says.
The bankruptcy filing stops about a dozen lawsuits in their tracks, ESPN reports, cutting off depositions of USA Gymnastics officials and ending a discovery process that could have turned up evidence that USA Gymnastics knew about and ignored claims against Nassar.
It’s not clear, however, that the group had enough money to settle those lawsuits, anyway.
“In an initial filing Wednesday night, USA Gymnastics estimated that its primary assets of cash and cash equivalents are worth $6.5 million,” far less than what would be needed to cover payouts to the dozens of women Nassar is said to have abused over a decades-long career with the gymnastics organization. A recent settlement between Nassar’s victims and Michigan State University, where Nassar worked for years as a gymnastics team doctor and medical professional, cost the school more than $500 million.
Nassar’s victims and their attorneys aren’t surprised, either.
“The leadership of USA Gymnastics has proven itself to be both morally and financially bankrupt,” one of the lead attorneys suing USA Gymnastics told media. “They have inflicted and continue to inflict unimaginable pain on survivors and their families. They are incapable of meeting their obligations as an Olympic governing body.”
Nassar is believed to have abused hundreds of gymnasts across his career with both Michigan State and USA Gymnastics, including some of the biggest names in the sport. In the context of “treating” girls for gymnastics-related injuries, Nassar frequently touched his patients inappropriately, molesting them and, in some cases, penetrating them with his fingers. The girls were told that treatments were “typical.” Complaints — even general questions about Nassar’s fitness — they say, went ignored.
USA Gymnastics has struggled with controversy for years, even before Nassar’s behavior came to light last year. The organization has routinely been accused of turning a blind eye to abusive training and coaching techniques, physical abuse, and even athlete starvation.
Since the claims against Nassar surfaced, the organization has had three different leaders, each pressured, in turn, to resign, after star athletes accused them of being complicit in USA Gymnastic’s cover up of Nassar’s abuse. In November, the International Olympic Committee announced it had started the process of stripping USA Gymnastics of its role overseeing the American Olympic program for gymnastics.