Report: At least 368 gymnasts alleged sexual abuse over the last 20 years

BY Kerouac Smith • December 15, 2016

An investigative report from the IndyStar-USA Today Network says that at least 368 gymnasts have alleged some form of sexual abuse over the last 20 years.

The special report details the efforts taken to reach that number, which it says is likely far lower than the actual figure.

The Indianapolis Star has done several investigative pieces into allegations of sexual abuse by gymnasts, apparently with little help from USA Gymnastics, headquartered nearby.

But to come up with such a staggering number, reporters reviewed hundreds of police reports and court cases from around the country over the last two decades.

Among their reported findings:

• USA Gymnastics focuses its efforts to stop sexual abuse on educating members instead of setting strict ground rules and enforcing them. It says it can't take aggressive action because member gyms are independent businesses and because of restrictions in federal law pertaining to Olympic organizations. Both are contentions others dispute.

• Gym owners have a conflict of interest when it comes to reporting abuse. Some fear harm to their business. When confronted with evidence of abuse, many quietly have fired the suspected abusers and failed to warn future employers. Some of those dangerous coaches continued to work with children.

• Some coaches are fired at gym after gym without being tracked or flagged by USA Gymnastics, or losing their membership with the organization. USA Gymnastics often has no idea when a coach is fired by a gym and no systematic way to keep track. Ray Adams was fired or forced to resign from six gyms in four states. Yet some gym owners hired Adams, believing his record was clean.

“Nothing is more important to USA Gymnastics, the Board of Directors and CEO Steve Penny than protecting athletes, which requires sustained vigilance by everyone — coaches, athletes, parents, administrators and officials. We are saddened when any athlete has been harmed in the course of his or her gymnastics career.”

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