The Indianapolis Star has the latest scoop on the nightmarish story of the institutional response to Larry Nassar’s serial sexual abuse of young female gymnasts while he was a doctor for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University. The big takeaway: During USAG’s internal investigation into Nassar, the governing body worked with him on two separate occasions to actively hide the reason for his absence at major events.
USAG has previously said that it did not disclose the investigation earlier at the request of the FBI, something the FBI has neither confirmed nor denied. Regardless, emails obtained by the paper suggest that USAG’s attempt to mislead gymnasts and their families began even before the group contacted authorities. Furthermore, there is a clear difference between staying silent during an investigation, and actively working with the subject of that investigation to craft a cover story.
More than 330 girls and women have come forward claiming they were abused by Nassar over a span of more than two decades. And at least 14 of them say Nassar sexually assaulted them after USAG first learned of the original allegations in June 2015. This past January, Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison on seven counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct.
Here is where the latest revelations (dates italicized) fit into the known timeline, as laid out by the Star and others:
June 17, 2015: A coach informs USAG that she overheard gymnasts discussing concerns about Nassar.
July 2, 2015: USAG hires a human resources consultant to investigate the claims.
July 19, 2015: Gymnast Aly Raisman provides a detailed account of Nassar’s abuse.
July 22, 2015: Scott Himsel, an attorney working for the USGA, emails Nassar telling him his “therapy techniques” are under investigation. “I am sure you can appreciate as a medical professional that in today’s atmosphere, we need to address these concerns thoroughly and discreetly,” Himsel writes. Himsel goes on say that USAG has decided “it is in everyone’s best interest” that Nassar not attend a major event in Illinois that weekend, and that an USAG official will tell people that he had to miss the events for “personal reasons.”
“Can we just say that I am sick?” Nassar replies. “That would make more sense to everyone. Would that be ok?” Himsel agrees: “We’ll let [USAG official] Ron [Galimore] know to advise people that you weren’t feeling well and decided to stay home.”
July 25, 2015: Gymnast McKayla Maroney provides her own detailed account to internal investigators, and the HR consultant tells USAG to notify the authorities.
July 27, 2015: USAG sets up a meeting with the FBI.
July 28, 2015: USAG reports the allegations to the FBI.
July 29, 2015: Himsel responds to an email from Nassar that had made it clear that the doctor was eager to join the team at an upcoming championship event in Indianapolis. “Because the review is on-going, USA Gymnastics has determined it is in everyone’s best interest that you not attend USA Gymnastics events or communicate with USA Gymnastics athletes and personnel until further notice,” Himsel writes. “In addition, we suggest that prior to Championships that Ron Galimore will once again advise the medical staff (the Athlete Care Coordinator) that you cannot attend for personal reasons, unless you prefer a different approach that we are prepared to discuss. Please advise whether Ron may do so.”
“If I am not going to be at Championships,” Nassar writes back, “then it is due to financial reasons with my clinical practice, which is an accurate statement.” Himsel agrees: “Understood… USAG will be back in touch when it reaches the appropriate point in its review.”