USA Gymnastics, under fire from dozens of sex abuse lawsuits, has filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
The Associated Press reports that the national governing body for gymnastics filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition on Wednesday. The AP says USA Gymnastics “100 lawsuits representing over 350 athletes in various courts across the country.” The organization has been increasingly under fire after former team doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for sexually abusing athletes under the guise of medical treatment.
USA Gymnastics board of directors chairwoman Kathryn Carson termed the bankruptcy filing as a “reorganization,” not a liquidation, per the AP report. Mediation attempts in the lawsuits “failed to gain traction,” per the report, and the bankruptcy filing is intended to speed up that process. The bankruptcy filing won’t affect how much money is available to victims; that money will come from the organization’s insurance coverage. USA Gymnastics said in an ESPN report that it hoped the filing would help expedite the process of handling the many lawsuits.
“We owe it to the survivors to resolve, fully and finally, claims based on the horrific acts of the past,” Carson told ESPN in their report.
The AP report suggests the move has more to do with the United States Olympic Committee’s recent move to decertify USA Gymnastics as the national governing body for the sport. Carson told the AP that USA Gymnastics’ lawyers believe declaring bankruptcy will stay the USOC’s decertification and allow USA Gymnastics to “work with the USOC to regain credibility.”
The Nassar scandal was the highest-profile example of a growing wave of past abuses coming to light within sports, swimming included. There was at least one swimmer to testify in court among Nassar’s victims, and 2012 Olympian Ariana Kukors Smith came forward earlier this year with allegations that she was groomed and sexually abused by her former coach, Sean Hutchison, beginning when she was a teenager. Kukors Smith is currently suing USA Swimming, among others, in relation to those allegations.