Gymnastics coaches around the country are learning the hard way that success can be a double-edged sword. One high-profile coach is facing backlash from former athletes who issued complaints of abuse and misconduct. The allegations come on the heels of the acclaimed coach's recent induction into the U.S.A. Gymnastics Hall of Fame.
New Misconduct Allegations
The former Olympus Gymnastics coach received numerous accusations of abuse from former gymnasts and their parents. One former Stanford gymnast claimed that the coach emotionally, physically, and verbally abused her. She issued complaints to the Center for SafeSport and is advocating that the coach receives a lifetime ban from the sport.
U.S.A. Gymnastics has yet to take action to respond to the misconduct allegations. In a statement to The New York Times, program representatives said they might reconsider the Hall of Fame induction depending on the case adjudication.
A Troubling Pattern
The recent allegations come at a troubling time for gymnastic coaches around the globe. Many gymnastics programs are dealing with investigations into abusive practices by their coaches.
Several high-profile coaching abuse investigations have emerged in the U.S. in recent years. U.S.A. Gymnastics recently suspended one coach for eight years due to her aggressive behavior towards athletes.
Other coaches received lifetime bans following a wave of sexual abuse claims by former gymnasts. The popular Netflix documentary “Athlete A” exposed many of the sexual abuse complaints against a former U.S.A. Gymnastics doctor. Many have called for reforms to the U.S.A. gymnastic culture since the scandal became public in 2016.
New Misconduct Policies
Many gymnastics programs are pushing back by invoking harsher punishments against coaches accused of misconduct. The U.S.A. Gymnastics program released an updated Safe Sport Policy to lay the groundwork for athlete safety and abuse prevention. The policy includes specific definitions for various kinds of misconduct including sexual abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse, stalking, bullying, hazing, and harassment.
U.S.A. Gymnastics also implemented a 5 Tier System to address misconduct incidents. The organization intends to use this system to better identify, investigate, and resolve misconduct reports. Severe cases, such as sexual misconduct, can include immediate suspensions, permanent ineligibility from the sport, and criminal charges.
Coaches and Misconduct
The recent surge in misconduct claims has left coaches in a precarious position. Coaches may face an uphill battle to prove their innocence.
College coaches also face new Title IX regulations that change how universities respond to misconduct claims.
The new guidelines require schools to select a uniform standard of evidence to respond to sexual misconduct allegations. Many universities also employ separate policies to investigate misconduct that falls outside Title IX. As coaches grapple with new misconduct policies, it's more important than ever that they take action to defend themselves from accusations.
Using an Attorney Advisor
The stakes are higher than ever before for coaches accused of abuse. If you face misconduct allegations, you must fight back. An attorney can help you create a defense and challenge misconduct accusations that jeopardize your future. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has spent years fighting for people unfairly accused of misconduct. Contact Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 to schedule a consultation.