The prospective class action is intended to help victims of sexual predators ‘other than’ Larry Nassar.
A class action complaint is seeking to include “thousands of victims of molestation” in a lawsuit against USA Gymnastics, which is moving toward a bankruptcy settlement that’ll prevent more abuse claims from being filed against it.
The sporting organization began Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings in December, hoping to end a wave of sexual assault allegations and preserve its participation within the U.S. Olympic Committee.
The lawsuit, reports the Indianapolis Star, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana on Monday. It alleges that the USA Gymnastics either knows or should know the identity of many current and former athletes who were molested by persons other than Larry Nassar.
Nassar, a long-time USAG physician, was convicted of sexually assaulting hundreds of girls and young women at his Michigan State University office and other locations.
According to Jonathon Little, the Indianapolis attorney who lodged the complaint, USA Gymnastics possesses dozens of ‘secret files’ recounting allegations of abuse against various members of staff. His lawsuit not only seeks to certify a new class but demands the release of 54 files sealed in litigation currently ongoing in Georgia.
Little told the Star that it’s important USAG release the files so that victims of abuse have the chance to claim financial damages before the group goes belly-up.
“The point is, this process can’t really be complete until all those kids are noticed and we know of some that weren’t,” Little said. “We’re filing so that those kids do not get left out. That’s our goal.”
In a statement sent to the Associated Press, USA Gymnastics said it knew it was being sued but hadn’t yet been served the complaint.
“Pursuant to the bankruptcy process, USA Gymnastics provided notice of the claims bar date to anyone who it believed may wish to assert a claim against the organization,” USAG said. “Additionally, USA Gymnastics widely publicized the claims bar date notice, including on its website, Twitter account and through media outlets.”
USA Gymnastics further told the Star that Little was involved in the bankruptcy proceedings and received copies of the sexual abuse proof of claim forms at the end of February.
“He filed the lawsuit on the claims bar date and the date in the complaint,” USA Gymnastics said. “Clearly, Mr. Little knew of the bar date, and we trust he advised his clients accordingly.”
However, the lawsuit claims “there are hundreds, likely thousands of victims of molestation by USA Gymnastics coaches, agents, officials, and employees who are known to USAG and who are completely unaware” of the bankruptcy claims deadline.
In addition to USAG, Little’s suit also names a Georgia gym and the estate of former Indianapolis gymnastics coach Marvin Sharp.
Sharp, notes ABC News, committed suicide in 2015 after being arrested on child molestation and child pornography charges. According to Little, the lawsuit includes those defendants because they were required by USA Gymnastics to have insurance coverage for sexual abuse claims.
The complaint says that “the limited funds of USA Gymnastics and its insurance carriers are the only relief available to named plaintiffs and the other members of the proposed class.”