Investigation uncovers systematic abuse of young gymnasts

An investigation conducted by the Indianapolis Star and USA Today discovered a massive and systemic abuse of young competitive gymnasts. The victims were aged 6 to 16 and primarily girls. The abuse ranged from secretly filming the girls in their changing rooms to inappropriate touching, and even sexual exploitation. This post will go over the findings from the investigation.

The story is especially shocking because it implicates USA Gymnastics, the largest gymnastics organization in the US. USA Gymnastics is also responsible for vetting and training America’s premier gymnasts, including Olympians.

The investigation found that, at least, 386 girls from the 1980s to present were abused by coaches and other people affiliated with USA Gymnastics. Part of the problem uncovered by the investigators is that USA Gymnastics did not track or punish offenders until very recently. Instead, offending coaches were fired from individual gyms but were free to apply to new locales for work.

Furthermore, the girls were discouraged from speaking out because of resistance from USA Gymnastics officials and fear of how it would impact their chances at a competition. Several young women noted that gymnastics is inherently subjective therefore most girls are unwilling to alienate coaches because they could be future judges.

While these investigations are critical to revealing a dangerous trend that harms people, they also unduly influence the police and prosecutors. Law enforcement is more likely to act rashly to obtain “justice,” regardless from whom justice is extracted. If you are under investigation for a sex crime, then you may want to speak to a defense attorney as soon as possible. It is a safe bet that if you are caught up in a high-profile story, you could be subject to an aggressive prosecution that undermines your right to a fair trial. A defense attorney can ensure that your rights remain inviolable.

Source: The IndyStar and USA Today, “A 20-year toll: 368 gymnasts allege sexual exploitation,” Tim Evans, Mark Alesia, and Marisa Kwiatkowski, December 15, 2016