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Gymnasts Sexual Abuse More Widespread Than Thought, Reports Says

Image: Gymnasts Sexual Abuse More Widespread Than Thought, Reports Says

A gymnastics competitor on the balance beam. (Brenda Carson/Dreamstime.com)

By    |   Thursday, 15 Dec 2016 12:37 PM

Gymnasts sexual abuse may be more widespread than previously thought after a report revealed that more than 350 gymnasts were allegedly sexually assaulted in the past 20 years.

An investigative report from the IndyStar-USA Today Network stated that at least 368 gymnasts have alleged that they experienced some form of sexual abuse in the past two decades, according to Fox Sports.

The official report alludes to several testimonies pertaining to the abuse. Here are some of the claims included in the report.

  • “A 12-year-old gymnast molested by an Olympic coach during ‘therapy sessions.’”
  • “Children as young as 6 secretly photographed nude by coaches.”
  • “Coaches who slipped a finger inside girls’ leotards.”
  • “A coach having almost daily sex with a 14-year-old at one of the country’s most prestigious gyms.”

The some 368 cases were found in police files and court documents during the course of nine months, according to ABC News.

The majority of the victims, who are mostly girls, are children.

More than 100 coaches, gym owners and other adults are said to be connected to the alleged abuse.

The report says USA Gymnastics failed these victims by not monitoring the “predatory” coaches and allowing them to move from gym to gym maintaining their membership for these USA Gymnastics-certified gyms, ABC News noted.

“It’s just too easy for coaches to keep getting hired and hired and hired. Sexual abuse thrives on the fact that people are embarrassed about the topic, ashamed to talk about it, and they keep quiet about it,” Nancy Hogshead-Makar, an Olympic gold-medal swimmer and CEO of the advocacy group Champion Women, told the Indianapolis Star.

“And that’s exactly why molesting coaches keep getting hired at the next place,” she added. “Nobody talks about a coach that is inappropriate with athletes; the coach quietly moves away and gets hired someplace else.”

USA Gymnastics issued a statement assuring people that they’re dedicated to protecting their athletes, despite the new report.

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

A former president of the organization, Mike Jackie, implied that those involved might have stayed quiet about these matters because of their desire to participate in the Olympics, which is a rare opportunity considering it only comes around every four years, the New York Magazine noted.

“There’s paranoia at all levels,” Jackie said. “It’s hard to take a stand.”

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Gymnasts sexual abuse may be more widespread than previously thought after a report revealed that more than 350 gymnasts were allegedly sexually assaulted in the past 20 years.
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2016-37-15
Thursday, 15 Dec 2016 12:37 PM
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