USA Gymnastics president Kerry Perry resigns
Kerry Perry has resigned as president of USA Gymnastics, the organization’s second leader to depart in connection with the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal.
The announcement Tuesday came days after the United States Olympic Committee’s new leader questioned the direction of the organization under the leadership of Perry, who took over as president in December.
“As you know, USA Gymnastics has been in the midst of a difficult and painful transition to ensure that the safety and interests of our athletes remain at the heart of our mission, wrote USAG Board Chair Karen Golz in a letter to the membership. “While much as been accomplished over the past several months to stabilize the organization, we still face tremendous challenges as we all work to achieve fundamental changes to move our sport forward.”
Under Perry’s watch, USAG took actions in January that included dropping the Karolyi Ranch in Texas as a national team training center and suspending John Geddert, the owner of the Lansing-area Twistars gymnastics club, where Nassar treated many young women who accused him of sexual assault under the guise of medical treatment.
But Perry struggled to outline a clear path forward during her nine months on the job. She repeatedly came under scrutiny by athletes who felt she was mishandling the fallout from the abuse scandal surrounding Nassar, the disgraced former team doctor.
The latest included last month’s appointment of Mary Lee Tracy as USAG elite development coordinator even though she publicly expressed support of Nassar after he was arrested in 2016 and women continued to come forward with sexual assault accusations.
Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman called Tracy’s appointment a “profound disappointment,” on twitter, saying that USA Gymnastics, “has appointed someone who, in my view, supported Nassar, victim-shamed survivors, & has shown no willingness to learn from the past. This is a slap in the face for survivors, & further confirmation that nothing at USAG has changed.”
Perry, a former communications executive, was hired in December 2017 to replace Steve Penny, whose tenure also came under pressure for his handling of Nassar. Penny resigned in March 2017 after mounting pressure following the admission that USAG did not report Nassar to the FBI for five weeks and instead conducted an internal investigation.
When she took over as president of USA Gymnastics, she stressed her focus would be on “creating an environment of empowerment where all have a strong voice and we are dedicated every single day to athlete safety.”
But many believe that did not happen.
“Our first responsibility is to protect children and during her short tenure as CEO, Perry was never transparent about what was occurring, her work, or what she was doing to change the culture at USA Gymnastics,” said U.S Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn,in a statement. “There is still a lack of urgency behind addressing how we protect young people from physical and emotional abuse while maintaining the amateur status that allows young people to compete. Congress has a responsibility to ensure we are protecting all amateur athletes and determine what changes need to be made to protect the opportunities that these sports provide.”
California-based attorney John Manly, who represents most of the victims who have filed civil lawsuits against USAG and USOC, agreed.
“Perry continued the same flawed policies that led to the Nassar scandal, placing the reputation of coaches and staff above the safety of athletes and denying all legal responsibilities for the two decade long cover up of Nassar’s crimes,” said Manly.
While the USOC expressed disappointment following the botched hiring – and then firing – of Tracy, Manly said the leadership at the USOC was culpable, too. He noted that the USOC leadership sat by for more than a year while Perry assembled a new Board that has not spoken up as she “continued to disrespect some of our nation’s most gifted athletes and treat survivors of sexual abuse as adversaries.”
“USOC did not act until Ms. Perry selected as women’s elite development coordinator an individual who publicly defended Larry Nassar after he had been accused of sexual assault by 50 women and indicted on federal child pornography charges,” Manly said. “Sadly, the culture of abuse which is rampant in USA Gymnastics is rampant throughout the Olympic Governing Bodies. Serious and credible charges of child sexual abuse have been made against USA Swimming, USA Figure Skating, USA Wrestling, USA Taekwondo, USA Water Polo and other, yet USOC has consistently failed to act.”
He called on Congress to take action to oversee United States participation in Olympic sports.
“USA Gymnastics needs to be decertified as an Olympic Governing Body and the Chair and Board of Directors of the United States Olympic Committee should be replaced by individuals who will protect the brave young athletes who represent our country,” Manly said.
Detroit News Staff Writer Kim Kozlowski and the Associated Press contributed
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