A Georgia judge has ruled that files containing sexual abuse complaints against USA Gymnastics coaches, trainers, and officials should be made public.
Just prior to the opening of the 2016 Summer Olympics held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, USA Gymnastics faced a firestorm over sexual abuse allegations concerning its young gymnasts.
The allegations became public after IndyStar broke the story earlier this summer. The newspaper’s investigation found numerous incidents of sexual abuse as well as an organization policy that withheld turning over such complaints to law enforcement officials unless the complainant signed a complaint. Given the nature of the sexual abuse of children, the demand for a signed confession made it virtually impossible for police to investigate possible sex crimes involving USA Gymnastics.
USA Gymnastics plans to appeal Judge Ronald K. Thompson’s ruling. Thompson agreed to unseal 54 sex abuse complaint files and 12 depositions taken in the case. He said he will review them first as a “safety precaution” to ensure sensitive information isn’t released by mistake.
The attorney for USA Gymnastics attacked the media during the court hearing stating that reporters were on a “witch hunt”.
According to the IndyStar, “The documents are expected to shed further light on how USA Gymnastics handled sexual abuse allegations against coaches who were members of its organization, including whether the national governing body reported those allegations to authorities. Kelly Cutright, who was abused as a teen by her gymnastics coach, said the judge’s order to release the files is ‘a good first step’ toward protecting kids who are part of USA Gymnastics now. She disagreed with the organization’s contention that there was a witch hunt.”
Transparency and information are two key elements in stopping the abuse and exploitation of children. It’s reprehensible that USA Gymnastics would characterize the public release of these documents as anything short of a search for truth and justice.
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