USA TODAY’s Christine Brennan discusses the findings of the investigation commissioned by the USOC into handling of Larry Nassar sexual abuse case.
More than two years after an Indianapolis Star investigation, USA Gymnastics’ policy for handling sexual abuse allegations still falls short of what is required by Indiana law, according to documents filed Wednesday by the Indiana attorney general’s office.
The attorney general’s office, which confirmed it has been investigating the national governing body for almost a year, said USA Gymnastics’ current policy requires suspected child abuse or neglect to be reported to authorities within 24 hours, unless the organization knows authorities have already been notified, federal court records state.
Indiana law requires such allegations be reported immediately.
“Therefore, the current USAG policy falls short of the requirements imposed by Indiana law and the proactive approach endorsed by (former federal prosecutor Deborah) Daniels, as well as what is necessary to protect athletes and children across the nation from abuse,” the Indiana attorney general’s office argued in federal court filings.
In a statement, USA Gymnastics said, “We are reviewing the objections filed late this afternoon by the Attorney General, but it goes without saying that the consultants, just like all current employees and Board members, would be required to follow the law and all of the reporting and safe sport procedures we have implemented over the past year.”
The national governing body filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this month, saying the move would help resolve lawsuits stemming from former team doctor Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse. USA Gymnastics also said it hoped the action will hold off a decertification effort by the U.S. Olympic Committee.
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On Wednesday, the Indiana attorney general’s office filed limited objections to USA Gymnastics’ requests to continue using the services of two consulting firms, Alfers GC Consulting LLC and Scramble Systems LLC. Alfers was hired to provide general business and legal consulting; Scramble was hired to provide general business and advisory consulting.
The state agency asked the federal court judge to deny USA Gymnastics’ requests unless the consulting firms agree to comply with child abuse reporting laws, cooperate with pending investigations and “work toward full implementation of the Daniels recommendations,” court records state.
USA Gymnastics hired Daniels in 2016 to review its policies and practices for handling sexual abuse allegations. The move came amid a growing sex-abuse scandal that resulted in the resignation of former CEO Steve Penny and others. In 2017, Daniels issued 70 recommendations.
Only 47 percent of those have been implemented, USA Gymnastics’ records show.
The Indiana attorney general’s office questioned whether some of those recommendations had actually been implemented. It also noted that some of Daniels’ most important recommendations have “fallen by the wayside.”
In a statement, Attorney General Curtis Hill said “the allegations against USA Gymnastics are extremely disturbing.”
“While my office typically refrains from commenting about ongoing investigations, we can confirm today that we have been investigating USA Gymnastics for nearly a year,” he said. “Today we took an initial step toward strengthening protections for athletes participating in USA Gymnastics events and at member gyms around the country. We will continue working diligently to ensure nonprofit entities in Indiana act with integrity.”
USA Gymnastics said it has “cooperated fully” with the attorney general’s investigation, as well as investigations by other entities.
Follow Marisa Kwiatkowski on Twitter: @IndyMarisaK.