Two senators in charge of a subcommittee that oversees consumer protection, among other things, have called on USA Gymnastics, the U.S. Olympic Committee and Michigan State to provide more information about "systemic failures" that helped Larry Nassar get away with sexual assault for nearly a quarter-century.
Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) signed a letter sent to USA Gymnastics CEO Kerry Perry on Thursday morning that asks questions about the three institutions' policies for reporting sexual assault. The senators also asked about USA Gymnastics' history of using nondisclosure agreements with its athletes. They said they were troubled by reports that gold medalist McKayla Maroney had to break a nondisclosure agreement to speak up about her experience with the abuses perpetrated by Nassar, the former national medical coordinator for the Olympic gymnastics team.
"The despicable actions of the former USAG team doctor and sports medicine physician at MSU are well documented," the letter said. "However, recent reports and revelations from Dr. Nassar's sentencing hearings provide ample evidence that USAG and MSU were negligent in acting on reports of Nassar's abuse of more than 140 young women."
A judge in Ingham County, Michigan, sentenced Nassar to a minimum of 40 years in state prison after he admitted to using his position as a doctor to sexually abuse girls and young women. Nassar, 54, was also sentenced in December to 60 years in federal prison for child pornography charges. He is a co-defendant, along with USAG, Michigan State and several others, in more than 150 civil lawsuits that allege those institutions failed to stop Nassar when presented with numerous opportunities to do so during the past two decades.
Maroney, who rose to fame as a member of the "Fierce Five" Olympic team in 2012, is part of those civil lawsuits. In her suit, she claims that USA Gymnastics forced her to sign a confidentiality agreement in 2016 to keep her allegations against Nassar quiet. The Wall Street Journal reported that Maroney was paid $1.25 million to sign the agreement, and she would reportedly face a $100,000 fine if she spoke about her alleged abuse.
USA Gymnastics announced last week that it had no intention of fining Maroney if she chose to speak at Nassar's sentencing hearing in Lansing. She submitted a written statement to the judge as part of a seven-day hearing in which more than 150 people provided impact statements about Nassar's behavior and his enablers.
Perry took over as USA Gymnastics' top official in December; the former CEO resigned months earlier while facing the fallout from sexual abuse scandals in the organization. Three other executive board members from USA Gymnastics resigned last week during Nassar's hearing, and Perry announced that the Karolyi Ranch -- where several women say they were abused by Nassar -- will no longer be used as the training grounds for the country's elite gymnasts.
Blumenthal and Moran asked a series of questions in their letter and requested a detailed timeline of how USA Gymnastics responded to reports of Nassar's sexual misconduct. They asked that Perry respond with answers in the next two weeks.