U.S. Olympic Committee officials could face a criminal investigation pertaining to widespread sexual abuse perpetrated by a national team doctor, if a Senate Democrat gets her way.
“The U.S. Olympic Committee had a moral duty to act when informed of a possible crime,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., wrote in a Saturday letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “It is incumbent on the Department of Justice to investigate whether there was a legal duty as well.”
Gillibrand asked the Justice Department to open the investigation following reports that the USOC learned of allegations against Dr. Larry Nassar in 2015, but failed to investigate the reports. Nassar pleaded guilty to seven counts of abuse, receiving a sentence of up to 175 years in prison after 150 women described their experiences to in court.
“These young women and children were failed time and again by adults at the U.S. Olympic Committee who were entrusted with the responsibility to care for them,” Gillibrand said in a statement accompanying the letter’s release. “When presented with credible information that Nassar was a child predator committing crimes against young girls, the U.S. Olympic Committee appeared to turn a blind eye.”
Her letter coincides with a report that Nassar abused “at least 40 girls and women” in the 14 months after the FBI opened a “plodding” investigation into his behavior. “The three alleged victims then at the center of the F.B.I.’s inquiry were world-class athletes; two were Olympic gold medalists,” the New York Times reported Saturday. “Nearly a year passed before agents interviewed two of the young women.”
Gillibrand made a similar point in calling for a USOC investigation. “Their inaction resulted in the abuse of even more young women and girls,” she wrote. “I request that the Department of Justice examine the extent to which other parties have failed in their duty and should be held responsible for their contribution to Dr. Nassar’s crimes.”