Senators demand explanation of allegations against USA Gymnastic - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Senators demand explanation of allegations against USA Gymnastics

(Source: AP) (Source: AP)
SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

There is brand new information regarding the civil lawsuit filed in Savannah against USA Gymnastics, the agency that governs all Olympic gymnastics training.

That lawsuit and the media investigation into allegations of unreported sexual abuse of young gymnasts has now attracted the attention of the United States Senate.

A scathing letter to the President and CEO of USA Gymnastics now puts these allegations in the national spotlight. 

That training organization is responsible for some 9,000 young athletes and certifies more than 3,000 gyms around the country, including the one in Effingham County where Coach William McCabe was eventually convicted of sexually abusing at least one girl and sentenced to 30-years in prison. 

In 2013, that victim filed a civil lawsuit against USA Gymnastics claiming the organization spent years protecting its coaches, and in turn, its reputation at the expense of young girls being victimized by dozens of these coaches.

Late Friday, four U.S. Senators including Diane Feinstein and Patrick Leahy sent a letter to Steve Penny, the President of USA Gymnastics demanding an explanation of the allegations being made in that lawsuit. Saying that if these allegations were true they are, "...deeply troubling to anyone concerned about the welfare of children." It also points out that, "some allegations were allowed to linger for years before any action was taken, leaving young victims in the supervision of sexual predators."

The senators went on to demand that the organization that governs Olympic Gymnastic training, "…provide USA Gymnastics current policies on how it handles allegations of sexual abuse."

Lawmakers are also asking USA Gymnastics to, "…explain how coaches or others who supervise children are vetted and evaluated over time to ensure athletes in their care are protected."

The senators also demand USA Gymnastics provide current policies on how it handles allegation like these now, and how those policies have changed in the last two decades.

They summed up their concerns in the letter this way: "The upcoming Olympic Games will inspire many young athletes to work to achieve their dreams, and many will be inspired to become gymnasts.  USA Gymnastics has a responsibility to ensure that these young athletes are safe."

Here's why the Senators may be so anxious right now.  After the Rio Games are done, the Olympic gymnastics team will be paraded across the country in a 36-city tour.  It is USA Gymnastics best opportunity for both publicity and, perhaps more importantly, to inspire a surge in gym memberships by young boys and girls with dreams of Olympic gold.

I am also waiting for a call back from Senator Feinstein's Washington office to clarify whether that letter is perhaps a precursor to calling Steve Penny to the capital to testify. 

I will stay with the case and bring you the very latest as new information becomes available.

To read more about the lawsuit, please read our past story here:

Read the full letter sent by U.S. Senators below: 

Copyright 2016 WTOC. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly