3 board members quit Indy-based USA Gymnastics as more victims speak

January 22, 2018

Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics announced the resignations of three key leaders Monday while more women and girls told a judge about being sexually assaulted at the hands of a sports doctor who spent years with Olympic gymnasts and other female athletes.

Chairman Paul Parilla, vice chair Jay Binder and treasurer Bitsy Kelley announced they were stepping down as testimony in Nassar's sentencing hearing in Michigan moved into its second week. Nassar faces a minimum prison sentence of 25 to 40 years in a molestation case.

Later Monday, USA Gymnastics suspended the coach of the 2012 Olympics team, John Geddert, who worked with Nassar at his gyms in Michigan.

A number of Olympians have been among those testifying in the Nassar hearing. Many have also sued the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics and called for the sports leaders to leave their jobs.

A person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press that USOC CEO Scott Blackmun met with Parilla earlier this month and asked for his resignation. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the issue publicly.

In a statement, Blackmun said the USOC has been discussing changes with leaders at USA Gymnastics since October.

"Those discussions accelerated over the holidays and today you have seen three board resignations," Blackmun said. "New board leadership is necessary because the current leaders have been focused on establishing that they did nothing wrong. USA Gymnastics needs to focus on supporting the brave survivors."

The new CEO, Kerry Perry, said USA Gymnastics supported the resignations.

"We believe this step will allow us to more effectively move forward in implementing change within our organization," she said.

The board positions are volunteer and unpaid, but the resignations add to the months of turmoil. Steve Penny quit as president last March after critics said USA Gymnastics failed to protect gymnasts from abusive coaches and Nassar.

The group last week said it was ending its long relationship with the Karolyi Ranch, the Huntsville, Texas, home of former national team coordinator Martha Karolyi and her husband, Bela. Some Olympians said they were assaulted there by Nassar.

Meanwhile, in Michigan, Nassar's sentencing hearing continued Monday, raising the number of girls and women who have spoken to nearly 100 since last week.

"I want to you know that your face and the face of all of the sister survivor warriors—the whole army of you—I've heard your words," Ingham County Circuit Judge Rosemarie Aquilina said after a woman spoke in her Michigan courtroom. "Your sister survivors and you are going through incomprehensible lengths, emotions and soul-searching to put your words together, to publicly stop (the) defendant, to publicly stop predators, to make people listen."

Nassar, 54, has admitted molesting athletes during medical treatment when he was employed by Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics. He has already been sentenced to 60 years in prison for child pornography crimes.

Under a plea deal, he faces a minimum prison sentence of 25 to 40 years in the molestation case. The maximum term could be much higher.

"Larry, how many of us are there? Do you even know?" asked Clasina Syrboby, as she fought back tears while speaking for more than 20 minutes Monday. "You preyed on me, on us. You saw a way to take advantage of your position—the almighty and trusted gymnastics doctor. Shame on you Larry. Shame on you."

She and other victims also continued their criticism of Michigan State, USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee for not doing enough to stop Nassar when initial complaints were made.



Recent Articles by Associated Press

Comments powered by Disqus