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Personal Injury Law: Chicago Injury Lawyer Blog
Former Gymnasts Speak Out Against Abusive Coach
Unfortunately, reports of child sex abuse by sports coaches are becoming more and more prevalent these days. A group of former youth gymnasts are speaking out, as adults, against their coach who physically and sexually abused them for years. According to these women, the abuse occurred throughout their rigorous schedules as elite gymnasts.
The gymnasts explained that the abuse would begin as physical in the form of punishment during training. The coach?s abuse then would eventually become sexual. This horrific abuse persisted for decades as numerous girls were victimized by this predator.
As I read the stories of these courageous women, I immediately wondered, how could this have gone on for so long without someone putting a stop to it? It appears that numerous factors contributed to the abuse going on for so long. First, parents of the gymnasts were required to sign waivers that barred them from attending practice. Thus, parents were unaware of the coach?s physical abuse during practices, which could have raised red flags. Second, these young gymnasts traveled extensively, often without their parents. This gave the coach access to the girls in secluded areas like hotel rooms where he could accomplish his sinister abuse. Third, even when faced with evidence of the abuse, it seems as though parents and USA Gymnastics officials turned a blind eye.
As a personal injury attorney with extensive experience dealing with sex abuse cases, I find this story very troubling, and I am concerned that many similar reports of abuse by coaches are going untold. In the increasingly competitive arena of youth athletics, where college scholarships are on the line, it may be more tempting to overlook suspicious behavior by coaches, in particular ones that are very talented at what they do. In this case, parents and gymnastics officials did just that. USA Gymnastics did not make this coach permanently ineligible until the conclusion of an investigation in 2010. Unfortunately, this should?ve been done 30 years ago.
I commend these women for their courage and perseverance in coming forward against this systematic abuser. I hope this story highlights the importance of aggressively investigating and policing any and all allegations of abuse by coaches of youth athletics.
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