Please attribute to USA Gymnastics
USA Gymnastics admires Maggie Nichols’ bravery and encourages our athletes and others, like Maggie, to share their personal experiences with abuse. We are sorry that any athlete has been harmed during her or his gymnastics career. USA Gymnastics is focused every day on creating a culture of empowerment that encourages our athletes to speak up about abuse and other difficult topics.
Maggie’s conversation overheard by a coach and her willingness to be interviewed about her comments and experiences initiated the process that resulted in the conviction of Larry Nassar for the reprehensible crimes he committed.
Contrary to reported accusations, USA Gymnastics never attempted to hide Nassar’s misconduct. The suggestion by plaintiff’s counsel John Manly, who indicates that he is representing Maggie, that USA Gymnastics tried to silence athletes or keep the investigation secret to avoid headlines before the Rio Olympics and to protect Los Angeles’ Olympic bid is entirely baseless. USA Gymnastics kept the matter confidential because of the FBI’s directive not to interfere with the investigation.
USA Gymnastics reported Nassar to the FBI in July 2015 and to a different FBI office again in April 2016. When Maggie’s comments were relayed by her coach to the organization, USA Gymnastics immediately contacted her parents and hired an experienced, independent investigator to speak with her and others at a mutually agreed date and time. The information that Maggie and later a second athlete provided was important, but did not provide reasonable suspicion that sexual abuse had occurred. Following a third athlete interview on Friday, July 24, 2015, the investigator recommended that USA Gymnastics report to law enforcement, and USA Gymnastics contacted the FBI on the next business day, Monday, July 27. When USA Gymnastics representatives met with the FBI on Tuesday, July 28, 2015, they disclosed the information received during all three interviews, including Maggie’s. The FBI then took over the matter, and it decided who to speak with and when. USA Gymnastics cooperated fully with the FBI, including the agents’ July 28, 2015, request to not do anything that might interfere with their investigation. USA Gymnastics interpreted that request to mean that it should not discuss the matter, and it refrained from doing so.
Except with law enforcement, USA Gymnastics did not identify any interviewed athletes by name to protect their privacy, including Maggie, who was a minor at the time. At all times, USA Gymnastics has attempted to support athletes’ desire for confidentiality or public disclosure, and it has commended every athlete who has come forward to report abuse and will continue to do so.
USA Gymnastics is committed every day to ensuring our athletes are safe and further developing a culture of empowerment. The new CEO Kerry Perry is eager to meet and talk with Maggie and others who can help guide and lead these efforts. USA Gymnastics has and will continue to take specific and concrete steps to prevent future abuse by vigorously enforcing the USA Gymnastics Safe Sport Policy. We are focused on further developing a culture that has safe sport as a top priority throughout the organization.