USA Gymnastics Executives Step Down Amidst Sexual Abuse Scandal

Photo: REUTERS/Brendan McDermid.

UPDATE: Last night, Aly Raisman posted a statement on Twitter responding to a statement from the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) about the news that USA Gymnastics executives had resigned amidst the sexual abuse scandal. In their statement, the USOC wrote that they “need to focus on supporting the brave survivors.” But Raisman slammed the USOC for not acknowledging its own role. “ZERO accountability! It’s like none of us were abused,” she wrote.

Then, Raisman acknowledged other members of the USOC and asked them to step up. "How about the others, who either allowed them to do whatever they did wrong, or were so oblivious they didn’t know what was happening? Either way, these — and any other changes — won’t matter, until we know exactly what happened. Suggesting otherwise is dangerous to athletes," she wrote.

Raisman called for an independent investigation of the situation, and ended with the question: "What’s it going to take for you to do the right thing?"

This story was originally published on January 22, 2018.

Today, three USA Gymnastics executives, chairman Paul Parilla, vice chairman Jay Binder, and treasurer Bitsy Kelley, resigned from their positions. This announcement comes on the fifth day of the sentencing of Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics doctor convicted of sexual assault by more than 140 girls and women.

In an official statement today, USA Gymnastics CEO, Kerry Perry said, "USA Gymnastics thanks Paul Parilla, Jay Binder and Bitsy Kelley for their many years of service to this organization. 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."

In the past week, more than 100 current and former gymnasts have confronted Nassar at his sentencing to provide personal testimonies. Many women, including Aly Raisman, two-time gold-medal Olympian, pointed fingers directly at USA Gymnastics for turning a blind eye and enabling Nassar's behavior for decades.

"False assurances from organizations are dangerous, especially when people want so badly to believe them. They make it easier to look away from the problem and enable bad things to continue to happen," Raisman said last week. Raisman then directly called out USA Gymnastics's CEO, Kerry Perry, saying that she has "taken on an organization that I feel is rotting from the inside."

Later Raisman expressed her frustration toward the organization for how they've handled the recent events. "Neither USA Gymnastics nor the United States Olympic Committee have reached out to to express sympathy or even offer support," she says. "Not even to ask, 'How did this happen? What do you think we can do to help?'" Other survivors and teammates of Raisman's had similar stories.

The first gymnast to speak out about Nassar's abuse was Maggie Nichols, a former USA national gymnast. In a statement read by her mother during the sentencing, Nichols said that she heard Michigan State University knew about the complaints against Nassar, but ignored them and did not report them to USA Gymnastics. "If they had, I might never have met Larry Nassar and I would never have been abused by him. I have come to the realization that my voice can have influence over the manner in which our USA athletes are treated," her statement read. USA Gymnastics later said they "never attempted to hide Nassar's misconduct."

Last week, when gold medalist McKayla Maroney's statement was read at the sentencing, she cited the same incident. "If Michigan State University, USA Gymnastics, and the U.S. Olympic Committee had paid attention to any of the red flags in Larry Nassar’s behavior, I never would have met him, I never would have been 'treated' by him, and I never would have been abused by him," Maroney said.

Simone Biles posted her statement on Instagram last week, stating, "I will not and should not carry the guilt that belongs to Larry Nassar, USAG, and others." And Jordyn Wieber, Olympic gold-medalist and member of the "Fab Five," said in a statement on Friday: "And now the people who are responsible need to except responsibility for the pain they have caused me and the rest of the women who have been abused. Larry Nassar is accountable. USA Gymnastics is accountable. The U.S. Olympic Committee is accountable."

At the moment, all eyes are on USA Gymnastics to make the changes necessary to ensure that they put a stop to the rampant abuse, so no one has to go through what these countless women had to.

Your move, USA Gymnastics.

If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

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