By David Barron, Houston Chronicle
Updated 8:59 pm, Monday, January 22, 2018
Dr. Larry Nassar, the former national team doctor for USA Gymnastics accused of sexually assaulting at least 50 women, was derided in court after penning a letter to the judge that listening to victims statements was "detrimental to his mental health."less
Dr. Larry Nassar, the former national team doctor for USA Gymnastics accused of sexually assaulting at least 50 women, was derided in court after penning a letter to the judge that listening to victims... more
Scandal-plagued USA Gymnastics announced Monday the resignation of its chairman and two other board members, and the Walker County sheriff's department said it has begun an investigation into reports of abuse at the Karolyi Ranch, which until last week served as the federation's national woman's training center.
Monday's announcements came as victims presented more impact statements at a sentencing hearing for former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, who has pleaded guilty to seven state counts of criminal sexual conduct by abusing gymnasts under the guise of medical treatment.
As those statements continued in Lansing, Mich., USA Gymnastics officials in Indianapolis announced the resignations of board chairman Paul Parilla, vice chairman Jay Binder and treasurer Bitsy Kelley under what was said to be pressure from the U.S. Olympic Committee.
"We support their decisions to resign at this time," said Kerry Perry, USA Gymnastics' new CEO. "We believe this step will allow us to more effectively move forward in implementing change within our organization."
USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said the resignations were required "because the current leaders have been focused on establishing that they did nothing wrong."
"USA Gymnastics needs to focus on supporting the brave survivors. The Olympic family failed these athletes and we must continue to take every step necessary to ensure this never happens again," Blackmun added.
Parilla, an attorney in Orange County, Calif., and the father of former trampoline Olympian Jennifer Parilla, had been on the USA Gymnastics board since 1999 and was named chairman in December 2015. Binder was on the board from 2002-07 and since 2009, and Kelley joined in 2007.
Attorney John Manly, who is representing several dozen gymnasts in a California state court lawsuit against Nassar, the federation and the Karolyis, was critical of a USA Gymnastics statement thanking former board officers for their service.
"While this action is welcomed, it's years overdue. It also allows the board members who supported the concealment to stay. The cancer is still present, and it needs to be removed entirely," Manly said.
While no charges have been filed in Texas, where Nassar is alleged to have abused gymnasts under the guise of treatment at the Karolyi Ranch, located 11 miles northeast of New Waverly in the Sam Houston National Forest, Walker County officials have launched their own investigation.
Marlene Wells, public information officer for Walker County Sheriff Clint McRae, said she was informed last week of the probe at the ranch, owned by former national team coordinators Bela and Martha Karolyi, but had no other details. McRae did not return messages request comment.
USA Gymnastics last week said it was ending its lease to use the ranch as a training center.
The Indianapolis Star reported last year that investigators with the Texas Rangers visited the ranch in November 2016 to investigate a complaint alleging continuous sexual assault of a juvenile.
Lt. Craig Cummings with the Department of Public Safety said Monday that details from that visit were forwarded to the FBI and there is no active investigation by the Rangers under way.
GROWING OUTCRY: USA Gymnastics may need to be replaced in wake of scandal
The resignations and investigation coincide with a week of testimony by young women who were victimized by Nassar, who was a USA Gymnastics team physician from 1996 through July 2015 and also worked as a sports medicine physician for Michigan State University.
Nassar's actions were reported to USA Gymnastics in 2015, but the federation waited five weeks before giving information about Nassar to the FBI and did not notify Michigan State or authorities in Michigan as Nassar continued to work there.
Much of the attention on the Nassar sentencing hearings in Michigan, which are expected to continue through Thursday, has focused on such well-known athletes as Olympic gold medalists Aly Raisman and Jordyn Wieber, who gave statements in court, and four-time 2016 gold medalist Simone Biles of Spring, who said in a statement that she also was abused by Nassar.
Monday's witnesses, however, included Emma Ann Miller, who at age 15 is the youngest victim thus far to confront Nassar in court.
Miller, who said she was assaulted in August 2016 during a medical appointment, said the clinic where she was abused is still trying to bill her family for treatment, and she focused much of her anger at Michigan State University, Nassar's longtime employer.
"Are you listening, MSU? I'm 15 years old and I'm not afraid of you, nor will I ever be," she said. "... I didn't choose this circumstance. Nassar made that choice for us -- your 20-year child-molesting employee. This is a burden at 15 I shouldn't have to bear. But believe me, MSU, bear I will."
Also Monday, USA Gymnastics said it had suspended the membership, pending an investigation, of John Geddert, Wieber's longtime coach and head coach of the gold medal-winning 2012 Olympic team.
Geddert operated two Michigan gyms that employed Nassar, and several gymnasts who trained at his gyms were among those making victim impact statements at Nassar's sentencing hearing.