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Culture > News

USA Gymnastics Is Being Investigated For Failure to Prevent & Report Sexual Abuse

USA Gymnastics, the organization that selects gymnasts for Olympic teams, is under fire for outdated—and even nonexistent—sexual abuse reporting policies after allegations that a team doctor assaulted a number of girls over the years, NBC reports.

On Tuesday, Deborah Daniels, a former federal prosecutor who was hired by USA Gymnastics to investigate the organization’s practices, released a 100-page report that calls for a major change in how the organization handles allegations of abuse and educates its staff and athletes about sexual assault, according to NBC.

“Over time, the practices of USA Gymnastics have not kept up with best practices in the field of child abuse protection, allowing for significant gaps and exposures regarding the prevention and reporting of child sexual abuse within the sport,” Daniels wrote in the report.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Daniels was asked to investigate USA Gymnastics last fall after accusations that the organization failed to address a number of child abuse allegations, including the case of longtime team doctor Larry Nassar, who reportedly molested dozens of female athletes.

In the report, Daniels sheds light on a number of issues, including the fact that the organization currently does not have a written protocol for how to handle allegations of abuse. It also states that gymnastics clubs that belong to the USA Gymanstics network—as well as its athletes and members—have not been required to report sexual misconduct or other abuse to police or the USA Gymanstics governing body. That’s a problem, because if people aren’t explicitly required to report sexual abuse, they’ll often stay silent, putting children in danger.

“In recent years, a number of troubling reports have surfaced of young women allegedly abused by persons affiliated with USA Gymnastics as members or contractors over a lengthy period of time, including allegations that USA Gymnastics was not sufficiently responsive in disciplining offenders and terminating their access to young gymnasts,” Daniels says in the report. “While individual USA Gymnastics staff members have perceived themselves as having been vigilant in protecting children, within the boundaries they perceived as limiting their authority to control others’ behavior, it has become clear that more is needed.”

When we think of USA Gymnastics, images of our favorite Olympic gymnasts and routines come to mind—but this report brings to light the all-too-real prevalence of sexual abuse and unreported assaults, calling for a much-needed cultural change that goes beyond the gym.

Follow Darcy Schild on Twitter.

Darcy Schild is a University of Florida junior majoring in journalism. She's the Editor-in-Chief of Her Campus UFL and was previously a Her Campus national section editor. She spent Summer 2017 as an Editorial Intern at HC headquarters in Boston, where she oversaw the "How She Got There" section and wrote and edited feature articles and news blogs. She also helped create the weekly Her Campus Instagram Story series, Informed AF. Follow her on Twitter and on her blog, The Darcy Diaries.