As the sentencing hearings for USA Gymnastics team physician Larry Nassar, who pled guilty to sexual assault charges, continue, three members of the USA Gymnastics Board of Directors announced their resignation.
Nassar’s sentencing hearings for 10 sexual assault charges in Michigan resume this week. As part of the proceedings he must listen to impact statements from his victims due to his plea deal. More than 100 women and girls have accused Nassar of abuse, including Olympic gold medalists Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, and McKayla Maroney. He’s already been sentenced to 60 years in federal prison for child pornography.
USA Gymnastics has been criticized by several athletes, including Raisman, who claimed the organization turned a blind eye to accusations over the years rather than taking action.
Among those resigning include chairman of the board, Paul Parilla, vice chairman, Jay Binder, and treasurer, Bitsy Kelley, USA Gymnastics announced on Twitter. The news comes on the fifth day of women and girls reading their impact statements in court.
USA Gym Board of Directors executive leadership – Chairman Paul Parilla, Vice Chairman Jay Binder & Treasurer Bitsy Kelley – tendered their resignations, effective Jan. 21, 2018. The Board of Directors will identify an interim chairperson until a permanent selection is named.
— USA Gymnastics (@USAGym) January 22, 2018
“We support their decisions to resign at this time. We believe this step will allow us to more effectively move forward in implementing change within our organization,” USA Gymnastics president and CEO Kerry Perry said in a statement shared to Twitter.
“As the board identifies its next chair and fills the vacant board positions, we remain focused on working every day to ensure that our culture, policies and actions reflect our commitment to those we serve.”
“As the board identifies its next chair and fills the vacant board positions, we remain focused on working every day to ensure that our culture, policies and actions reflect our commitment to those we serve.” – Kerry Perry, president and CEO.
— USA Gymnastics (@USAGym) January 22, 2018
On Friday, during a court appearance, Raisman condemned USA Gymnastics again, and specifically called out Perry and the organization’s “empty statements of empty promises.” A selected portion of her statement, which was published in full by the New York Times, can be read below:
“A few days ago, U.S.A. Gymnastics put out a statement attributed to its president and C.E.O., Kerry Perry, saying she came to listen to the courageous women and said, ‘Their powerful voices leave an indelible imprint on me and will impact my decisions as president and C.E.O. every day.’
This sounds great, Ms. Perry, but at this point talk is cheap. You left midway through the day and no one has heard from you or the board.
Kerry, I have never met you, and I know you weren’t around for most of this. But you accepted the position of president and C.E.O. of U.S.A. Gymnastics, and I assume by now you are very well aware of the weighty responsibility you’ve taken on.
Unfortunately, you’ve taken on an organization that I feel is rotting from the inside, and while this may not be what you thought you were getting into, you will be judged by how you deal with it.
A word of advice: continuing to issue empty statements of empty promises, thinking that will pacify us, will no longer work.
Yesterday, U.S.A. Gymnastics announced that it was terminating its lease at the ranch where so many of us were abused. I’m glad that it is no longer a national team training site, but U.S.A. Gymnastics neglected to mention that they had athletes training there the day they released the statement.
U.S.A. Gymnastics, where is the honesty? Where is the transparency? Why must the manipulation continue?
Neither U.S.A. Gymnastics nor the U.S.O.C. have reached out to to express sympathy or even offer support — not even to ask, “How did this happen? What do you think we can do to help?”
Raisman had previously called out USA Gymnastics on ESPN’s Outside the Lines, sharing that the organization told her to keep quiet about her abuse.
The United States Olympic Committee, which was also targeted by Nassar’s former patients, including Raisman, supports the resignations.
“New board leadership is necessary because the current leaders have been focused on establishing that they did nothing wrong,” Scott Blackmun, the Olympic committee’s chief executive, said in a statement to the The New York Times.
“The Olympic family failed these athletes and we must continue to take every step necessary to ensure this never happens again.”