USOC CEO apologizes, says he was unaware of Nassar abuse
ABS-CBN Sports on Dec 22, 2017 08:17 AM
FILE - In this Aug. 17, 2013 file photo McKayla Maroney smiles after competing on the floor exercise during the U.S. women's national gymnastics championships in Hartford, Conn. Maroney says the group that trains U.S. Olympic gymnasts forced her to sign a confidential settlement to keep allegations of sexual abuse by the team's doctor secret. Maroney filed a lawsuit Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017, in Los Angeles, against the United States Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics. The suit also seeks damages from Michigan State University, where the team's doctor, Larry Nassar, worked for decades. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola,File)
By Eddie Pells, Associated Press
The leader of the U.S. Olympic Committee says in a letter he was not aware of the Larry Nassar sex-abuse allegations before law enforcement got involved, and that he had no knowledge of a settlement between USA Gymnastics and 2012 Olympic champion McKayla Maroney in a case involving the now-imprisoned former team doctor.
CEO Scott Blackmun sent the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, on Thursday, the day after Maroney filed a lawsuit seeking to invalidate the nondisclosure clauses in the settlement.
The USOC is named as a defendant, and the lawsuit says the federation had long promoted a culture that concealed known and suspected sex abusers.
In the letter, Blackmun said "I am so sorry that the Olympic family failed these athletes," and that while the USOC found out too late, it has taken steps to prevent future abuse by creating the U.S. Center for SafeSport, which investigates sex-abuse allegations in Olympic sports.
"And I want to be crystal clear on the topic of transparency," Blackmun wrote. "During my tenure as CEO, which began in 2010, we have never been, and will not be, party to any effort to conceal or keep confidential allegations or instances of sexual abuse."
Maroney's lawyer, John Manly, called the letter "repugnant."
"If you're the USOC and you're really committed to this, what you should do is get on the phone to the USA (Gymnastics) board and say you're out or we're decertifying you," Manly said.
He said Maroney does not seek damages in the lawsuit, but only to be released from the nondisclosure and non-disparagement clauses in the settlement.
Maroney reached the settlement with USA Gymnastics in December 2016.
In October 2017, she publicly revealed the extent of the abuse she suffered in a Twitter post, saying Nassar began abusing her when she was 13 and attending national team training camp.
Nassar has admitted to sexually assaulting female gymnasts, possessing child pornography and molesting girls who sought treatment. He was sentenced earlier this month to serve 60 years in federal prison for possessing thousands of images of child pornography. Though Maroney was not part of that case, she and her mother wrote letters to the court detailing Nassar's abuse and how it impacted the gymnast.