Stars testify about sex-abuse scandal
washington» Retired star gymnasts testified before Congress on Tuesday that they were sexually abused by a former USA Gymnastics doctor and recommended a bill that requires tougher sex-abuse reporting for Olympic sports.
Jamie Dantzscher, a 2000 Olympic bronze medalist, and three-time national champion rhythmic gymnast Jessica Howard recounted their experiences before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
They told the committee of their abuses by Dr. Larry Nassar, who is in jail without bond in Michigan and also faces federal child pornography charges.
“USA Gymnastics failed its most basic responsibility to protect the athletes under its care,” Dantzscher said through tears.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California is cosponsoring a bill that requires organizations overseeing Olympic sports to immediately report sex-abuse allegations to law enforcement or child-welfare authorities.
The bill and proposed changes to the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act come in the aftermath of the sex abuse scandal that led to the resignation of USA Gymnastics President Steve Penny.
“They failed to take action against coaches, trainers and other adults who abused children,” Dantzscher said. “And they allowed Dr. Nassar to abuse young women and girls for more than 20 years.”
Penny is a co-defendant in a civil lawsuit filed by Dantzscher, who has accused Nassar of sexual abuse.
Dominique Moceanu, a 1996 gold medalist, described a “culture of fear, intimidation and humiliation, established by Bela and Marta Karolyi.” The legendary coaches are named in Dantzscher’s civil lawsuit for physical abuse.
U.S. Olympic Committee official Rick Adams and Stafford County (Va.) Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Olsen also testified. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the committee chairman, criticized USA Gymnastics for declining to testify.