Former gymnasts use National Championships as platform to call for change in leadership at USAG

ANAHEIM, CA (WLNS) – USA Gymnastics is hosting the 2017 Proctor and Gamble National Gymnastics Championships this weekend.

Opening day kicked off just a few days ago, on Thursday.

Two former gymnasts who say they were sexually abused by former MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, used that day as a platform to call for the removal of USA Gymnastics leadership, saying they didn’t do *enough* to stop sexual abuse.

Nassar, who was involved with USA Gymnastics for nearly two decades, is facing more than 20 first degree criminal sexual conduct charges in Michigan.

He will be sentenced in late November in an unrelated case, after pleading guilty last month to three child pornography charges in federal court.

Jamie Dantzscher, a 2000 Olympic bronze medalist and former gymnast Rachael Denhollander, held a joint news conference with their attorney John Manly on Thursday, where they called for the removal of several members of USA Gymnastics including the organization’s Chairman Paul Parilla, Vice Chairman Jay Binder, and Treasurer Bitsy Kelley.

They say USA Gymnastics did nothing to protect gymnasts from sexual abuse.

“For every victim of sexual assault, this status quo is unacceptable,” Denhollander said. “For every predator watching this unfold and hoping to still remain in power, sending the message USAG is sending is inexcusable.  For every innocent child whose safety is in the hands of any authority figure, this response is unjustifiable.  It is time for a complete Board change at USAG.  It is time to send the message that sexual assault matters, creating a culture of abuse matters, and it won’t be tolerated any longer.”

The demand for change in leadership comes not only in the wake of Larry Nassar, but after a report revealed that USA Gymnastics secretly settled out of court with a former gymnast who said Nassar sexually abused her.

Their attorney, John Manly says that settlement may have violated California law.

USA Gymnastics has and continues to face criticism for the way it’s handled sexual abuse allegations against coaches and other officials in the past. Earlier this year in March, the United States Olympic Committee demanded the resignation of the organization’s President, Steve Penny. 

Penny resigned a week later.

“USAG Chairman Paul Parilla, Vice Chairman Jay Binder and Treasurer Bitsy Kelley defended and enabled Steve Penny for years,” Dantzscher said. “Now, they are in-charge of selecting his replacement. It is clear that they intend to continue conducting business as usual which means placing money and medals ahead of the safety and well-being of athletes.”

The two former gymnasts and their attorney also called on Proctor and Gamble, the chief sponsor for the event, to help put those changes into effect.

“It is time for the sponsors that fund this organization to step up and demand change,” attorney John Manly said. “Proctor & Gamble, Under Armour, AT&T, Hershey’s, Kellogg and Berkshire Hathaway – now is the time for you to put your influence where your money is and join in demanding new leadership at USAG.”

Manly represents more than 100 women and girls in civil lawsuits.

In June, a report commissioned by USA Gymnastics revealed that the organization had an ineffective approach when it came to preventing sexual abuse.

As a result, USA Gymnastics adopted 70 recommendations to change that.

Nassar has maintained his innocence in the state cases against him. He says the treatment he performed on his patients were accepted medical techniques.

To date, more than 120 women have filed civil lawsuits against the former doctor, USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University.

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