Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) wants to know why the U.S. Olympic Committee didn’t do more to stop disgraced former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar from years of sexually abusing athletes.
In a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Gillibrand called for the Department of Justice to probe whether the U.S. Olympic Committee could have done more to stop Nassar from preying on girls and young women under the guise of medical treatment.
“As of this writing, more than 150 young women and teenagers have publicly testified to the abuses they suffered at the hands of Dr. Larry Nassar,” Gillibrand wrote in the letter, dated Saturday. “These young women have demonstrated great courage by speaking out about the cruelties they have endured.”
Gillibrand’s letter comes after 265 young girls and women have accused Nassar of sexually abusing them. Nassar, as USA Gymnastics team doctor, abused many top-tier and Olympic athletes, including Simone Biles and Aly Raisman. He also abused dozens of athletes as the Michigan State University team doctor.
“These young women and children were failed time and again,” Gillibrand wrote. “I call upon the Department of Justice to investigate the depth of those failures and whether they violated the law.”
A Justice Department spokesperson declined to comment.
Nassar on Monday was sentenced to 40 to 125 years imprisonment on three counts of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree. Last month, he was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison on additional counts. He also has been sentenced to 60 years on federal child pornography charges.
Many survivors have called for heads to roll at institutions that enabled Nassar to continue abusing athletes for so long. The U.S. Olympic Committee knew of Nassar’s abuse since 2015 and did little to stop it.
While several U.S. Olympic Committee officials have resigned in the face of criticism, Gillibrand wrote that “resignations are not enough.”
“Punishing Dr. Nassar is not enough. His crimes were facilitated by a culture of silencing victims and valuing a doctor over the vulnerable children he was supposed to heal,” Gillibrand wrote. She added: “The U.S. Olympic Committee had a moral duty to act when informed of a possible crime. Their inaction resulted in the abuse of even more young women and girls.”
Nassar’s crimes also have forced resignations at USA Gymnastics and Michigan State. MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon stepped down in January. The entire USA Gymnastics board resigned, and former Olympic coach John Geddert retired. The NCAA also has begun an investigation into MSU’s handling of the Nassar case. Last week, Congress passed a bill that aims to protect young athletes from sexual abuse and regulate governing bodies of amateur sports.
“It is incumbent on the Department of Justice to investigate whether there was a legal duty as well,” Gillibrand concluded in her letter. “I request that the Department of Justice examine the extent to which other parties have failed in their duty and should be held responsible for their contribution to Dr. Nassar’s crimes.”
This article has been updated to include the Justice Department’s response.
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