They also deleted emails containing those disturbing accusations, according to an independent investigation’s report released Monday that details how the sport’s governing bodies completely failed its young female athletes.
Officials with the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics “maintained secrecy regarding the Nassar allegations and focused on controlling the flow of information about his alleged misconduct,” investigators wrote.
Their report concludes that although the officials were told Nassar’s “techniques” were alarming some young athletes in July 2015, they chose to ignore the issue for 14 months ― until a September 2016 newspaper article made the allegations public.
Inaction by now-former U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun and U.S. Olympic Committee chief of sport performance Alan Ashley allowed Nassar to abuse dozens more young women and girls, investigators stated.
Nassar, a former physician for Team USA women gymnasts and USA Gymnastics, was convicted in January on child sex abuse charges that largely stemmed from his work with the nation’s top gymnastics organizations.
This year, more than 100 women stepped up in a Michigan courtroom to explain how the abuse has affected their lives, in a dramatic weeklong trial that followed Nassar’s conviction on separate child pornography charges. The disgraced physician will live the rest of his life behind bars.
Monday’s 233-page independent report was commissioned from the law firm Ropes & Gray by the U.S. Olympic Committee’s board of directors. It reflects 10 months of work, more than 100 interviews and a review of more than 1 million documents, including emails and text messages.
Neither Blackmun nor Ashley initiated an internal review or fact-finding mission after first hearing of Nassar’s alleged abuses in a phone call with former USAG CEO Steve Penny. (Penny currently stands accused of tampering with evidence related to the Nassar scandal.)
Although Blackmun claimed that he took action, none of the meetings he described actually happened, investigators found. He also did nothing after another colleague raised the issue.
Investigators said Nassar was allowed to commit “thousands” of assaults stretching back to the early 1990s.
“Whether measured by the number of survivors, the tally of abusive acts, the range of adults and institutions that failed to intervene, or the span of years over which Nassar was able to perpetrate his crimes,” wrote attorneys Joan McPhee and James Dowden, “the chronicle of his serial child sexual abuse is devastating.”