Judge Rosemarie Aquilina sentenced Larry Nassar to 40 to 175 years in prison after pleading guilty to 10 charges of sexual assault.
USA TODAY Sports
Two high-ranking members of the U.S. Olympic Committee were told of sexual assault complaints against Larry Nassar a year before any charges were made public, but failed to take any action, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
In a story published Thursday, the Journal cites a phone call in July 2015 and an email that September, both from the former president of USA Gymnastics, as an indication the USOC was aware of possible criminal behavior by the longtime team doctor.
Yet from that time until just a few days before the allegations became public in September 2016, Nassar continued to be allowed to treat patients at his office on the campus of Michigan State University and at other team facilities.
In the July phone call, USA Gymnastics President Steve Penny asked USOC Chief Executive Scott Blackmun for guidance on how to handle the situation, a person familiar with the call told the Journal. However, Blackmun didn’t offer any suggestions other than for Penny to “do what he had to do.”
Two months later, Penny sent an email to USOC chief security officer Larry Buendorf regarding allegations of sexual abuse by Nassar from three top gymnasts.
That email is believed to be the first documented evidence that the USOC was aware of allegations against Nassar, who was appointed national medical coordinator for USA Gymnastics in 1996.
Five U.S. Olympic champion gymnasts — Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney, Gabby Douglas and Jordyn Wieber — are among more than 250 victims who have said Nassar assaulted them dating as far back as 1994.
Penny was forced to resign as USA Gymnastics’ president in March under pressure from the USOC. The leadership of the USA Gymnastics’ board of directors followed suit, followed this week by the rest of the 21-member board to prevent the organization from being terminated by the USOC as the sport’s official governing body.
More: More than 250 have come forward as victims of ex-USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar
More: Larry Nassar’s lawyer gets death threats in MSU sex abuse case: ‘It’s been insane’
An Indianapolis Star investigation of USA Gymnastics, begun in 2016, uncovered widespread sexual abuse of athletes by coaches and others and failures to alert authorities. The reporting by the IndyStar, part of the USA TODAY Network, led to new federal laws requiring Olympic organizations and others to report all allegations of sexual assault to authorities and resulted in the ouster of USA Gymnastics’ president and entire board.
Nassar, 54, is currently in his third round of sentencing. He received a 60-year federal prison sentence on child pornography charges. Last week, he was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison on sexual assault charges after 156 women and girls gave victim impact statements.
He currently is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to abusing young girls at a gymnastics club in Michigan. Thatprocess, which continues tomorrow, is expected to have another 65 women and girls speak.
His sentence on those charges is expected to be determined next week.
Follow Gardner on Twitter @SteveAGardner
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