Sunday, August 14, 2016

USA Gymnastics accused of ignoring years of sexual abuse allegations against coaches.

The 2016 Olympic Women's Gymnastics team.
Courtesy of the Indy Star:

Top executives at one of America’s most prominent Olympic organizations failed to alert authorities to many allegations of sexual abuse by coaches — relying on a policy that enabled predators to abuse gymnasts long after USA Gymnastics had received warnings. 

An IndyStar investigation uncovered multiple examples of children suffering the consequences, including a Georgia case in which a coach preyed on young female athletes for seven years after USA Gymnastics dismissed the first of four warnings about him. 

In a 2013 lawsuit filed by one of that coach’s victims, two former USA Gymnastics officials admitted under oath that the organization routinely dismissed sexual abuse allegations as hearsay unless they came directly from a victim or victim’s parent. 

Legal experts and child advocates expressed alarm about that approach, saying the best practice is to report every allegation to authorities. Laws in every state require people to report suspected child abuse. 

“USAG failed at this,” said Lisa Ganser, whose daughter filed the Georgia lawsuit, which is still being argued. “USA Gymnastics had enough information, I think, to have done something about this. It didn't have to happen to my daughter, and it didn't have to happen to other little girls.”

I have to admit that I have only paid minimal attention to the Olympic this year, until recently when the Gymnasts started competing.

As some of you may or may not know I was a mediocre gymnast myself in high school and a gymnastics coach in my thirties.

I will still argue that pound for pound the strongest athletes in the world are gymnasts.

I mean sure power lifters can sometimes bench press over 800 pounds, but just ask them to press up to a handstand or pull their bodies up into an iron cross the rings. THAT takes real strength, and the use of muscles that many athletes will never be asked to develop.

One of the first things I learned was that as a gymnastics coach the most important thing you have to establish with your athletes is a sense of trust because they quite literally place their lives in your hands.

More than perhaps any other sport there is a great deal of physical contact between the coach and the athlete because you have to physically assist them through their rotations, catch them when they fall, and even pick them up and place them on the equipment in certain circumstances.

For that reason as a coach you must conduct yourself with unwavering professionalism.

But even then there are incidents where hands can end up in the wrong places.

While still in high school I was once asked by the female coach to come into the gymnastics room to help spot a girl who was attempting a release move on the uneven bars. (Part of the deal I made for access to the gymnastics equipment was to be on call during the girl's training sessions and I did spot the girls fairly often.)

This time the young woman missed her grab and plummeted face first to the mat.

I was standing there and I managed to catch her before she hit, but in doing so I grabbed her by one of her boobs and between her legs. NOT, by the way, the appropriate manner in which to spot somebody according to the coach's manual.

I was incredibly embarrassed, and apologized profusely.

But she told me not to worry about it and that if I had not caught her she would probably have broken her nose or been knocked unconscious.

The point is that coach's have to be paragons of virtue in order to gain a gymnast's trust, ESPECIALLY if you are a male coaching young girls.

So for these young women to have been subjected to this abuse, when they desperately needed to trust their coaches, is incredibly shameful.

And it needs to be dealt with quickly and the young women entering this highly competitive atmosphere need to know they are protected and that their voices will be heard if they feel unsafe. And that reporting something like this will not endanger their standing or interrupt their training.

This sport is unbelievably hard on the athlete's bodies and can result in lifelong injuries. No parent should need to worry about their children suffering an emotional trauma as well.

30 comments:

  1. Anonymous2:11 PM

    The pedophile culture is deeply entrenched into our world. I am sure they have a tight network. The more people who stand up to these sick assholes, the better. Expose them! Bring them into the light!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous5:07 PM

      The best way to expose the problem, bring it into the light: do not to demonize them all as evil and assholes (sick is okay). Many are struggling against their urges, but getting help is very difficult - and some want help. I'm not talking about those who are violent. Assault is assault whether sex is involved or not. But as long as we demonize adults who seek gratification from children, rather than work to help them WHILE we keep them away from children, it will persist underground.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous7:06 AM

      @Anonymous 5:07 PM

      '''The best way to expose the problem, bring it into the light: do not to demonize them all as evil and assholes (sick is okay).'''
      ***************
      You're damn straight they are evil. EVIL EVIL EVIL.
      I am sick and tired of people like you labeling these evil bastards as sick, which is to blame their depravity on an illness and take away their culpability.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous4:03 PM

      I didn't say to take away their culpability. Where did you read that. I guess I wasn't clear.

      Delete
  2. Anonymous2:32 PM

    What about boy gymnastics?

    No problem or they are too embarrassed to speak up?

    If it's happening to the girls it's probably happening to the boys too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous3:01 PM

      A large percentage of boys that find their way into gymnastics are gay so it's not as tragic if they end up in a sexual relationship with their male coach.

      Delete
    2. No 3:01 you're thinking of figure skating.

      Besides coaches, of either gender, sexually assaulting boys, is just as bad as coaches, of either gender,sexually assaulting girls.

      Delete
    3. 3:01pm, What kind of fucked up logic is that?

      Delete
    4. Balzafiar3:42 PM

      3:01PM, for their sake I hope you don't have any kids. You're a fucking idiot.

      Delete
    5. Anonymous3:56 PM

      @3:19 EXACTLY!

      Delete
  3. Anonymous2:34 PM

    What an amazing life and career! How on Earth were you even remotely qualified to coach gymnastics? Do you just make up stuff every day?!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous2:56 PM

      Just because you can't be bothered to get off your fat ass and do something with your life doesn't mean others have that same problem.

      Delete
    2. I took classes and received my certification.

      I'm sorry if my relatively modest achievements make you feel like a loser but perhaps there is still time to work hard and apply yourself so that you too can have some accomplishments worthy of sharing.

      Delete
    3. Balzafiar3:43 PM

      2:34pm, being a troll doesn't count as an achievement. Just go back under the bridge.

      Delete
  4. Laws in every state require people to report suspected child abuse.

    This is interesting in view of the Catholic Church's tendency to deal with molesting-priest allegations via their own bullshit internal processes instead of calling the police. Aren't they also violating these laws?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous6:02 PM

      In my state, if a teacher does not report suspected abuse they can be arrested, prosecuted, fined or even incarcerated. (Although I've never heard of this happening.)

      I believe there are other professions with the same legal requirement.

      The law varies from state to state.

      And yeah, if those priests are also teachers then the covering up of the abuse is against the law. Which is just another reason the public has been so incensed at the cover up.

      Delete
  5. Anonymous2:59 PM

    We're not talking about kids competing in high school or Jr. high gymnastic teams we're talking kids whose parents send them away to gymnastic schools, hundreds or even thousands of miles away from their homes, at ages between 9 and 13, and they trust the coaches and their foster parents to be aware of what is happening, but children far away from parents are certainly in a position to be victims to unscrupulous coaches as they might not trust the foster family enough to tell the truth about what is happening.

    It's a pedophile's playground.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Balzafiar3:46 PM

      2:59PM Your first sentence is so not true. Predators don't all congregate in one place, they can be anywhere there are potential victims. That includes any school with students, at any level.

      Delete
  6. Anonymous3:29 PM

    Cardinal George Pell of Australia has been under investigation for a year for molesting boys in the swimming pool while teaching them to dive.

    These rock spiders are everywhere.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Anonymous3:52 PM

    Anonymous 2:56 PM said
    Just because you can't be bothered to get off your fat ass and do something with your life doesn't mean others have that same problem.

    !@#$%&

    Sarah you forgot to sign your comment: Lou Sarah

    ReplyDelete
  8. Anonymous4:12 PM

    I wasn't paying particular attention to the Olympics this year and unfortunately missed most of the gymnastics thus far. So this was the first I had heard of the sexual abuse allegations by gymnasts. Kudos, Gryphen, for bringing it to this community and for your thoughtful commentary and insights. If I had to guess, I would say 80% of my friends (females - mid to late 40s, early 50s) had been sexually abused to one extent or another-from neighbors touching to more serious molestations by cousins or immediate family members. Most never reported, and probably only told their parents years later. My own daughter (13) was being groomed by a predator in my neighborhood who had been a friend and targeted her because her parents were divorced and her dad moved away. (She told me after the first incident of touching.) Reported it but was found as "insufficient evidence" (no witnesses, thankfully no physical evidence/fluids, etc.) but not determined "unfounded," which was an option. I think this is a little discussed phenomenon that we really haven't started to completely address yet. Here is to hoping we start to change this incredibly common abuse,

    ReplyDelete
  9. Anonymous4:14 PM

    Gymnastics coaches and filmmakers are the worlds biggest abusers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous6:03 PM

      Do you have any statistics to back that or you following Gryphen's lead and just throwing shit out there.

      Delete
  10. Anonymous4:14 PM

    OT: Daily Mail has another Bristol & Dakota story just because they post on Instagram. I absolutely do not click on the stories as I do not want Daily Mail to think I am interested so maybe they will stop regurgitating Palin crap.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous5:41 PM

      Regurgitating here!

      Delete
    2. Anonymous9:59 PM

      yes 5:41 but the Palins don't get paid here!

      Delete
  11. Anonymous6:18 PM

    http://www.lifezette.com/faithzette/going-for-gold-devoted-to-god/?utm_source=fark&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=im

    ReplyDelete
  12. Anonymous7:05 PM

    "En garde"
    "Touch"
    Ibtihaj Muhammad, Mariel Zagunis, Monica Aksamit and Dagmar Wozniak TEAM WIN.
    http://www.teamusa.org/News/2016/August/13/US-Womens-Saber-Fencing-Team-Wins-Bronze

    ReplyDelete
  13. Touché.

    It should be sabre in the article. They spelled it wrong or I should say Americanized it.

    I'm so happy for them. Bronze is quite respectable.

    The rules for sabre are different than epee or foil. The target area is above the waist including arms and you can hit the head but not the hands.

    I took foil in college but have done a little sabre in stage combat class.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Anonymous12:42 PM

    Add to USA Gymnastics, USA Volleyball, USA Swimming etc. fact is, these are not policing bodies. Matters of sexual abuse should go directly to the local police department. Secondly, many srtates carry Statues of Limitations on sexual abuse, some as little as two years, therefore, abusers who are guilty may not have a criminal record and are NOT flagged in the system. Third, many times the abuse is rampant, numerous coaches are doing the same thing. Having their peers police them is shameful and leads to them looking the other way.

    The Olympic Gold Medalist in Judo has spoken out about e abuse she suffered at the hands of her previous coach that started at age 13! She has started a foundation called: The Fearless Foundation, one of her brilliant ideas is to teach our youth what 'grooming' looks like, introducing it in seventh grade health class. I applaud her.

    ReplyDelete

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