USA Gymnastics reached a confidential settlement with a Georgia athlete who claims the organization didn’t take enough steps to stop child abuse.
The suit, filed in 2013, alleges that USA Gymnastics received at least four separate warnings about coach William McCabe. The plaintiff claims McCabe filmed her in various states of undress.
According to a New York Times summary of the suit and its charges, USAG refused to forward child sex abuse allegations to law enforcement. The organization, recently at the epicenter of the Larry Nassar scandal, required victims or victims’ parents to sign a written statement before launching any sort of formal investigation.
A judge in Effingham County, GA, dismissed the suit in April. Despite the decision to settle, USA Gymnastics and its attorneys admit no wrongdoing.
“We want to make it clear that the settlement does not prevent the former gymnast from speaking publicly about her experiences,” wrote USA Gymnastics in a statement published Saturday.
Brian Cornwell, who represented the gymnast on behalf of Cornwell & Stevens LLP, said his client couldn’t comment on the settlement and its terms.
However, Cornwell did raise the case as an example of how sports organizations haven’t take all the necessary steps to protect their young wards.
“There were multiple opportunities for organizations to stop child sexual abuse, and they utterly failed in that responsibility,” said Cornwell. “There are organizations, including USA Gymnastics, that had the opportunity to at least warn members or the general public of allegations of sexual misconduct.”
Complaints against McCabe go back to the late 1990s, when a concerned gym owner warned USA Gymnastics that the man “should be locked in a cage before someone is raped.” It took a tip to the FBI from the mother of an 11-year old girl for McCabe to removed.
McCabe pled guilty to several federal counts of sexual exploitation of children in 2006. The Times reports that the Georgia coach is now serving a 30-year term in prison.
The suit, writes the Times and ABC News, sparked an examination of USA Gymnastics policies and past cover-ups by The Indianapolis Star. Digging back through the group’s records, the Star uncovered complaint files on 54 USAG coaches from across the country.
Shortly after the story broke, the organization’s president resigned along with its board of directors.
The Star’s investigation also revealed the accusations levied against Michigan State University physician Larry Nassar.
Nassar – once considered among the best sports medicine osteopaths in the nation – is now locked-up for molesting multitudes of patients and possessing large quantities of child pornography. While the 54-year old physician was only convicted on a handful of charges, law enforcement estimates that Nassar abused hundreds of girls and young women.