The U.S. Olympic Committee allowed disgraced former Olympic doctor Larry Nassar to continue treating patients even after it was made aware of multiple allegations of sexual abuse against athletes, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
Michigan Judge Rosemarie Aquilina sentenced Nassar to up to 175 years in prison last week after he pleaded guilty to sexually abusing seven athletes. More than 150 athletes have accused Nassar, who was the USA Gymnastics team doctor for nearly three decades.
Information uncovered by the Journal claims the USOC and USA Gymnastics knew of the accusations made by athletes for more than a year before Nassar’s arrest in 2016.
The USOC previously stated that it was unaware of the allegations until the media reported Nassar’s arrest.
Last month, the organization responded to a lawsuit filed by a gymnast. The USOC said it was “first made aware of the possibility that a USA Gymnastics physician had sexually abused USA Gymnastics athletes in the summer of 2015 when we were informed by USA Gymnastics.”
At that time, “USA Gymnastics indicated they were in the process of contacting the appropriate law enforcement agencies.”
Who knew what and when?
Here’s a timeline of events covered by the Journal:
• June 2015: A coach at the Karolyi Ranch training center in Texas overheard Olympic medal winner Aly Raisman and former national team member Maggie Nichols talking about their concerns regarding Nassar’s treatment, according to USA Gymnastics. The coach reported the conversation to the USA Gymnastics officials. The organization hired an outside investigator to look into the allegations.
• July 24, 2015: An Olympic gymnast described in a conversation with the investigator what appeared to be sexual assault by a team doctor. The investigator recommended that USA Gymnastics then-President Steve Penny contact law enforcement, which he agreed to do.
• July 25, 2015: Penny called USOC Chief Executive Scott Blackmun asking for guidance on the information he’d received from the investigator. Blackmun reportedly told him to “do what he had to do,” but gave no further guidance to the USA Gymnastics organizations in the months to come.
• July 27, 2015: Three days after the investigator contacted Penny, he reported the information to the FBI office in Indianapolis. That summer, Nassar was quietly forced out, and he retired from his position with USA Gymnastics. USA Gymnastics claims it was instructed by the FBI to keep quiet about the allegations while it conducted its investigation. The FBI has not confirmed that assertion.
• September 2015: Penny emailed the USOC’s chief security officer, Larry Buendorf, with details about the sexual allegations made by three top gymnasts.
• Sept. 8, 2016: A former Olympic medalist filed a lawsuit against Nassar in a California court. The suit alleged sexual abuse from 1994 to 2000.
• Sept. 12, 2016: Media reports surface on the accusations against Nassar after an Olympic gymnast filed a lawsuit against him for sexual abuse in a California court.
• Nov. 22, 2016: Nassar was arrested and charged with criminal sexual conduct with a person under 13.
What does the USOC say now?
The USOC recently announced it would launch an “independent investigation into the decadeslong abuse by Larry Nassar to determine what complaints were made, when, to whom, and what was done in response,” spokesman Mark Jones said in a statement.
Last summer, the USA Gymnastics’ leaders expressed their “deepest regrets” to abused athletes.
Olympic gold medalist McKayla Maroney, along with others, filed a lawsuit against the USOC last month, claiming the organization failed to protect the athletes and that it lied about when it learned of the allegations.
Over the last week, the entire board of directors has resigned.
Michigan State, where Nassar also worked, has faced much criticism for its role in the scandal.
U.S. lawmakers are now calling for an investigation into the USOC and USA Gymnastics organizations.