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FBI handling of Larry Nassar allegations reviewed by Justice Department

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department’s inspector general is investigating how the FBI handled sexual abuse allegations against former USA Gymnastics national team doctor Larry Nassar, a person familiar with the matter said Wednesday.

The investigation comes amid allegations that the FBI had failed to promptly address complaints made in 2015 against the once-renowned gymnastics doctor. Nassar is now serving decades in prison after hundreds of girls and women said he sexually abused them under the guise of medical treatment when he worked for Michigan State and Indiana-based USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians.

USA Gymnastics contacted the FBI about the allegations in July 2015, but it took months before the agency opened a formal investigation. At least 40 girls and women said they were molested over a 14-month period while the FBI was aware of other sexual abuse allegations involving Nassar.

Nassar was ultimately charged in 2016 with federal child porn offenses and sexual abuse charges in Michigan.

In the last month, investigators from the inspector general’s office have contacted some of the victims whose cases had been reported to the FBI, including former Olympian McKayla Maroney, according to the person familiar with the matter who wasn’t authorized to discuss the situation publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

The FBI and federal prosecutors in Michigan, Los Angeles and Indianapolis have refused to meet with Maroney and her attorneys to explain why it took months for federal agents to open an investigation, her lawyer, John Manly, said.

He alleges the FBI “concealed” what they knew about Nassar by failing to notify local authorities in Michigan or contacting the medical board. Manly and several other victims Manly represents are “horrified” that dozens of other girls and women were abused after the FBI was told about the allegations, he said.

“They deserved better than what they got,” Manly said.

USA Gymnastics president Kerry Perry resigned earlier this week and was the latest person to face fallout in the wake of the Nassar allegations. Numerous other people have been criminally charged, fired or forced out of their jobs during the investigations into Nassar.

The FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment and a spokesman for the Justice Department’s inspector general declined to comment on Wednesday.

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Kerry Perry out as USA Gymnastics president

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Kerry Perry is out as USA Gymnastics president and CEO after nine months, informing the board of directors of her resignation Monday night.

The move, first reported by the Orange County (Calif.) Register late Monday night, came three days after new U.S. Olympic Committee boss Sarah Hirshland called for leadership change after more problems within the organization following the Larry Nassar sex-abuse scandal.

“As we close the day, I’m afraid I can offer nothing but disappointment,” Hirshland said in a Friday statement. “Under the circumstances, we feel that the organization is struggling to manage its obligations effectively and it is time to consider making adjustments in the leadership.”

She said the USOC would reach out to the USAG board over the weekend to discuss changes. Perry took over for Steve Penny as president of USA Gymnastics in November 2017.

“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,” USA Gymnastics Board of Directors chair Karen Golz said in a statement. “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.”

Golz said a search is on for an interim CEO, and a formation began of a search committee to find a permanent CEO, chaired by board member and 1988 Olympic champion swimmer Brent Lang.

Perry has made very few public statements in nine months, and has had trouble gathering support in the gymnastics community, since taking over as part of a USOC-directed turnover of the federation’s board and senior management.

Two weekends ago at the national championships, Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles, a Nassar abuse victim herself, withheld judgment on the path USA Gymnastics has taken, saying “nobody can know until Kerry Perry speaks up. It’s kind of hard.”

Perry did speak up later that weekend, saying all but a few of the 70 recommendations suggested by an independent review of the federation’s actions had been implemented.

Much of that progress has been overshadowed by a steady stream of new allegations against Nassar and missteps by USA Gymnastics.

On Friday, USA Gymnastics awkwardly fired the coach it had hired only three days earlier as its elite program coordinator.

That led to Hirshland’s comments as the USOC itself is under the microscope for its own handling of sex-abuse allegations.

She took over for Scott Blackmun, who resigned as CEO in February due to health problems, while calls for his ouster were increasing for what critics said was the USOC’s own slow reaction and unwillingness to take responsibility for abuse in Olympic sports.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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New USOC CEO calls for another shakeup at USA Gymnastics

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DENVER (AP) — Not a month into her new job as CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee, Sarah Hirshland has seen enough from USA Gymnastics.

She’s calling for yet another shake-up in the federation’s leadership as it tries to remake itself in the wake of the Larry Nassar sex-abuse scandal.

Hirshland sent out a statement Friday night calling for changes in the USA Gymnastics leadership, only hours after the federation awkwardly fired the coach it had hired only three days earlier as its elite program coordinator.

The coach, Mary Lee Tracy, was an early supporter of Nassar when allegations against him began to surface. Then, without permission this week, Tracy reached out to one of her fiercest critics, gold medalist Aly Raisman, who is suing USAG.

“As we close the day, I’m afraid I can offer nothing but disappointment,” Hirshland said. “Under the circumstances, we feel that the organization is struggling to manage its obligations effectively and it is time to consider making adjustments in the leadership.”

She said the USOC would be reaching out to the USAG board over the weekend to discuss changes.

That likely spells trouble for Kerry Perry, who took over for Steve Penny as president of USA Gymnastics in November 2017.

Perry has made very few public statements, and has had trouble gathering support in the gymnastics community, since taking over as part of a USOC-directed turnover of the federation’s board and senior management.

USAG officials did not immediately return messages left by The Associated Press seeking comment.

Two weekends ago at national championships, Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles, a Nassar abuse victim herself, withheld judgment on the path USA Gymnastics has taken, saying “nobody can know until Kerry Perry speaks up. It’s kind of hard.”

Perry did speak up later that weekend, saying all but a few of the 70 recommendations suggested by an independent review of the federation’s actions had been implemented.

Much of that progress has been overshadowed by a steady stream of new allegations against Nassar and missteps by USA Gymnastics.

Tracy’s hiring certainly had the look of an unforced error.

She was on record as having supported Nassar in 2016, when allegations began surfacing.

As soon as Tracy was hired, Raisman, who has emerged as one of USA Gymnastics’ most vocal critics, called it “a slap in the face for survivors, and further proof that nothing at USAG has changed.”

Shortly after that, Tracy reached out to Raisman to apologize and talk about the future.

But USAG didn’t approve of that, and released a statement Friday afternoon saying Tracy had inappropriately contacted the gymnast, and had to ask for Tracy’s resignation.

The call by Hirshland comes as the USOC itself is under the microscope for its own handling of sex-abuse allegations.

She took over for Scott Blackmun, who resigned as CEO in February due to health problems, while calls for his ouster were increasing for what critics said was the USOC’s own slow reaction and unwillingness to take responsibility for abuse in Olympic sports.

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