It has been five years since the abuse by former national team doctor Larry Nassar was first reported to USA Gymnastics. Nassar abused over 300 athletes over two decades because of an ineffective oversight by Olympic organizations. Although he was given 40-125 years in 2018, the Senate commerce subcommittee in charge of investigating Nassar, found multiple organizations failed to act on credible reports that Nassar was abusing athletes. The USOC, USA Gymnastics, FBI, and MSU all had opportunities to stop Nassar but were unwilling or unable to do so. Organizations were not the only ones who failed gymnasts; individuals like Steve Penny, Lou Anna Simon, and Kathie Klages also helped cover up for Nassar.
In 2015, the FBI opened an investigation into Nassar after receiving reports of abuse. Still, they failed to stop Nassar from seeing patients or protect patients in harm’s way for more than a year as the investigation was moved between different offices. Between the summer of 2015 and September of 2016, the Olympic Committee, USAG, and MSU received reports about Nassar’s abuse before anything was done. The Olympic organizations’ ability to identify and prevent abuse was inadequate. As a result, hundreds of women and girls were sexually abused by him.
Organizations were not the only ones who failed gymnasts; several individuals were arrested for removing documents and lying to investigators to help cover for Nassar. Steve Penny, former USAG President and CEO ordered the removal of materials from Karolyi Ranch that were related to the activities of Nassar. Lou Anna Simon, for MSU president, and Kathie Klages, for MSU gymnastics coach, were charged for lying to investigators and police about Nassar’s sexual abuse history. These people were supposed to be looking out for gymnasts but failed to protect them from Nassar.
Last week, gymnasts called for the Justice Department to release its report on the FBI’s handling of the case. More than 120 survivors believe that it is obvious that the FBI failed to protect the nation’s athletes and many vulnerable young women from a sexual predator. Olympic gold medalists, Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, and Jordyn Wieber were amongst Nassar’s survivors asking for the release of the report. The length of time it took for Nassar to be arrested has been a point of pain for his victims.
Nassar sexually abused patients for decades because of the failure of several organizations. Reports of his abuse were covered up by several organizations and individuals. Failing to follow up on reports against Nassar, these organizations allowed his abuse to continue for a year before finally following up on the reports. Individuals helped cover up Nassar by ordering the destruction of documents and lying to investigators. Nassar’s victims have demanded that the Department of Justice release the full report of the FBI’s handling of the case, to show how profoundly it failed gymnasts.