Sports impacted by sexual abuse cases
The fallout continues from disgraced doctor Larry Nassar’s molestation of young athletes within USA Gymnastics, including the resignation of the governing body’s entire board of directors. Several sports have been impacted by sexual misconduct and abuse cases involving authority figures and children in the past decade. Among them:
Nassar, a 54-year-old former doctor for USA Gymnastics and member of Michigan State’s sports medicine staff, admitted to molesting athletes while he was supposedly treating them for injuries. Nassar was the U.S. national team’s doctor from 1995 to 2015.
Some of the more than 150 women and girls who have accused him said they complained about his behavior as far back as the late 1990s. Olympians McKayla Maroney, Simone Biles and Aly Raisman are among his accusers. Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison .
Michigan State President Lou Anna Simon resigned and athletic director Mark Hollis retired in the wake of the case.
In November 2016, a handful of former soccer players broke their silence about the sexual abuse they suffered at the hands of youth coaches. The effect has been bigger than they could have imagined.
According to the most recent figures issued by a specialist police unit investigating non-recent child sexual abuse in British soccer, 294 alleged suspects have been identified and the number of victims stands at 839, ranging from age 4 to 20.
One former coach, Barry Bennell, is currently on trial in Liverpool, England, accused of 48 counts of child sexual abuse against a total of 11 complainants. He has already pleaded guilty to seven counts of indecent assault.
Jerry Sandusky , a longtime assistant coach at Penn State under Joe Paterno, is serving up to 60 years in prison for sexually abusing 10 boys between 1994 and 2009. He met his victims though a charity he ran for at-risk youth.
Penn State’s former president, Graham Spanier, and two other ex-administrators, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, were prosecuted for child endangerment for not reporting a 2001 complaint about Sandusky showering with a boy. Sandusky’s arrest a decade later blew up into a scandal that led to Paterno’s dismissal in 2011.
As of last year, Penn State had paid nearly $250 million in fines, settlements and other costs associated with the scandal.
In 2010, a report on the television news program 20/20 addressed sexual abuse within the sport, noting that 36 coaches had been banned for life. That list has since grown to nearly 150 coaches.
Andy King was sentenced to 40 years in prison in 2010 for molesting girls training with the San Jose Aquatics Club. He was charged with 20 counts of lewd acts with girls 15 and younger. He was alleged to have impregnated one of his victims when she was 14.
In 2008, Central Indiana Aquatics coach Brian Hindson was accused of setting up hidden cameras in locker rooms. He pleaded guilty to charges including distribution, production and possession of child pornography and was sentenced to 33 years in prison.
USA Swimming executive director Chuck Wielgus, who died last year, came under fire for his handling of sex abuse cases. While he at first denied culpability, he later apologized in a blog post: ”I wish my eyes had been more open to the individual stories of the horrors of sexual abuse. I wish I had known more so perhaps I could have done more.”
Boston Bruins forward Sheldon Kennedy came forward in 1997 with claims he was sexually abused by Canadian youth coach Graham James beginning in 1984 when he was 14. Some six players ultimately said they had been abused by Graham, including Theo Fleury. Graham served two different stretches in prison.
Graham was a prominent coach in the Western Hockey League, leading the Swift Current Broncos to the Memorial Cup title in 1989. He was named Man of the Year by The Hockey News following the championship, an honor the publication later rescinded.
Kennedy has since become an advocate for victims’ rights.