U.S. Senate panel delays Nassar-related hearing

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News
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Sen. Jerry Moran.

Washington — A U.S. Senate panel investigating the Larry Nassar case has postponed a hearing planned for Tuesday because only one of the invited witnesses — former Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon — said she would attend.

The Senate Commerce subcommittee had also invited three witnesses associated with USA Gymnastics: former President and CEO Steve Penny, newly ousted senior vice president Rhonda Faehn, and Marta Karolyi, former national team coordinator.

Penny and Faehn declined, and Karolyi cited unspecified medical issues that affect her ability to travel, said Tom Brandt, a spokesman for Subcommittee Chairman Jerry Moran, R-Kansas.

Scott Blackmun, former head of the U.S. Olympic Committee, was separately invited and expected to submit written testimony. He resigned in February citing ongoing health issues resulting from prostate cancer.

“We are disappointed that several witnesses invited to testify did not accept our invitation,” Moran said in a joint statement with ranking Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.

“These testimonies are imperative to our subcommittee’s investigation into abuse in amateur sports and we will be rescheduling this hearing in the coming weeks.”

Brandt said the panel is preparing a second round of invitations for the same witnesses for the rescheduled hearing.

Frederick Hill, a spokesman for Commerce Committee, indicated it hasn't ruled out "any potential next steps as it seeks relevant testimony." That includes issuing subpoenas to reluctant witnesses.

The postponement comes on the heels of the sex abuse scandal involving Nassar, a former sports doctor for MSU and USA Gymnastics.

Nassar is serving what amounts to a life sentence after admitting to sexually abusing girls and women under the guise of medical treatment and to possessing child pornography.

MSU this week reached a $500 million settlement with more than 330 of Nassar’s accusers.

The settlement only deals with accusations against MSU and does not address lawsuits against parties including USA Gymnastics, the USOC or coaches.

Last month, Moran’s subcommittee heard from Olympic athletes, including Nassar victims Jordyn Wieber and Jamie Dantzcher, at a hearing on abuse.

The subcommittee has jurisdiction over the health and safety of USA Gymnastics and U.S. Olympic athletes.

A U.S. House subcommittee has planned a hearing for Wednesday entitled, “Examining the Olympic Community’s Ability to Protect Athletes from Sexual Abuse.”

The Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hear from witnesses including Susanne Lyons, the acting chief executive officer of the U.S. Olympic Committee, and Kerry Perry, president and CEO of USA Gymnastics.


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