The fallout from the Nassar scandal continues for USA Gymnastics. Three top leaders have left the organization effective immediately in the wake of yet more athletes coming forward with stories of sexual abuse at the hands of official physician Larry Nassar.
Kerry Perry, president of USA Gymnastics, said the organization supported the decisions and looked forward to moving on. “We believe this step will allow us to more effectively move forward in implementing change within our organization…”
Moving forward may be a bit more difficult than that, however. Nassar has been sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for decades of abuse of, at last count, up to 100 different girls in his care. The judge presiding in that case made it very clear who should have all the empathy in this situation, saying she “heard all the sister survivors” who are doing all they can to “make people listen.”
People are definitely listening, and many are asking how USA Gymnastics could have allowed this to go on for so long without outing Nassar or doing something to protect the young athletes he was abusing. Speaking at his sentencing, survivor Clasina Syrboby held back angry tears as she hurled accusations at Nassar: “Larry, how many of us are there? Do you even know? You preyed on me, on us. You saw a way to take advantage of your position — the almighty and trusted gymnastics doctor. Shame on you Larry. Shame on you.”
Many, many others are transferring some of that shame on USA Gymnastics as well. They want to know why something wasn’t done sooner, and they do not accept the excuse that no one really knew what was going on.
Both fans and board members want answers. They want to know who knew what and when they knew it. They believe that someone must have had some suspicions, and those doubts have led to a major, ongoing public relations problem for USA Gymnastics that is not likely to end with only a few resignations from the board.
Sure, Nassar is going to prison, but the public will expect more to be done. Parents with children coming up in feeder programs will want to know what’s being done to protect their girls, and fans will want to know why nothing was done to save the girls that won their hearts in competition over so many years.
So far, those answers are not forthcoming, but the questions are not going away anytime soon.