USA Gymnastics head Steve Penny quits amid sexual abuse reports
- Author: Angelo Rivera Mar 17, 2017,
Mar 17, 2017, 0:54
Steve Penny resigned as president and chief executive of USA Gymnastics on Thursday in the wake of the federation's handling of sexual abuse allegations concerning a former team doctor.
The USOC did not divulge details of the recommendation it made to USA Gymnastics but multiple media reports said it called for Penny's departure.
"The board believes this change in leadership will help USA Gymnastics face its current challenges and implement solutions to move the organization forward in promoting a safe environment for its athletes at all levels", USA Gymnastics chairman Paul Parilla said.
The Indianapolis Star, which broke the story about allegations of widespread child sex abuse in the usa gymnastics world, reports that Penny "has been personally responsible for handling sexual abuse complaints since becoming president in 2005, according to his sworn testimony in a Georgia lawsuit".
At the center of the allegations is Dr. Larry Nassar, the national team doctor from 1996 to 2015.
However, USA Gymnastics did not alert officials at MSU about the allegations, and he continued to practice at MSU's sports medicine clinic until he was sacked in September 2016 shortly after the Indianapolis Star story came out.
Nassar also worked for Michigan State for decades.
The scandal is centred on a former team doctor Larry Nassar, who is now in custody facing child pornography and sexual abuse charges.
It's the largest group to date to start or join a civil action in connection with sexual assault allegations against the former Michigan State doctor. In November, Nassar was arrested in MI on charges of sexually assaulting a child, and more than 20 charges in both state and federal court have been added since. While the USOC does not have official authority to remove heads of national governing bodies, it can apply pressure by threatening to withhold funding. I am especially grateful to the USA Gymnastics staff and everyone who has served on the board of directors over the years.
The U.S. Olympic Committee pressured the USA Gymnastics president and CEO to resign.
"USA Gymnastics and the entire gymnastics community must work together to focus on keeping athletes safe", Parilla said.
"We have accepted Steve's resignation and want to thank him for his contributions and dedication to USA Gymnastics over the years", Parilla said.
"While the survivors we represent welcome the Penny resignation, we do not see it as the end of this scandal or need for reform".
Other former athletes have excoriated the organization, including Jessica Howard, a three-time national champion in rhythmic gymnastics who is one of the former athletes to accuse Nassar of abuse. Penny, but numerous long-term members of the board.
Last August, the Indianapolis Star published an investigative report based, in part, on a lawsuit filed in Georgia by a girl who had been victimized as an 11-year-old by a USA Gymnastics member coach who was convicted in 2006 of sexual exploitation of children.
Manly had sent a letter to Probst this past weekend asking the USOC to decertify USA Gymnastics.