- USA Gymnastics received a detailed complaint in 2011 about Marvin Sharp, who was named 2010 national Women’s Coach of the Year. It described inappropriate touching of minors and warned that he shouldn’t be around children. Four years later, USA Gymnastics reported Sharp to police — but only after it was confronted with another disturbing allegation about him. This one led to Sharp being accused of touching a gymnast’s vagina, trimming her pubic hair and taking sexually explicit pictures of her beginning when she was 12 years old. Shortly after he was charged in federal court in Indianapolis last year, he killed himself in jail.
- USA Gymnastics had compiled a thick file of complaints about coach Mark Schiefelbein years before he was charged with molesting a Tennessee girl when she was 10 years old. The girl’s family contacted police in 2002. Schiefelbein penetrated her with his finger multiple times, according to police records. He also videotaped her exposed vagina for what he called “training purposes, so he would know where not to touch her.” The girl’s family was shocked to discover the history of complaints against Schiefelbein, which came to light only after prosecutors subpoenaed records from USA Gymnastics. A jury in Williamson County, Tennessee, convicted him in 2003 of seven counts of aggravated sexual battery and one count of aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor. He is serving a 36-year prison sentence.
- USA Gymnastics had a sexual misconduct complaint file on James Bell at least five years before his 2003 arrest for molesting three young gymnasts in Rhode Island. It’s unclear what allegations were contained in that file. But IndyStar found prior police reports on Bell in Oregon. In 1990, an underage gymnast told police that Bell had climbed on top of her and told her he wanted to take off her pants. In 1991, a 10-year-old gymnast said Bell stuck his hand inside her shirt and pinched her breast. Bell wasn't charged and continued coaching until his former employer reported him to police in Middletown, Rhode Island. He went on the run in 2004 and wasn’t rearrested until last year. Bell pleaded guilty in December in Newport County, Rhode Island, to three counts of child molestation and is serving eight years in prison.
- USA Gymnastics received at least four complaints about coach William McCabe as early as 1998. One gym owner warned the organization in 1998 that McCabe “should be locked in a cage before someone is raped.” USA Gymnastics never reported the allegations to police and, according to federal authorities, he began molesting an underage girl in 1999. McCabe continued to coach children for nearly seven more years, until Lisa Ganser went to the FBI with concerns about emails to her then-11-year-old daughter. McCabe was charged with molesting gymnasts, secretly videotaping girls changing clothes and posting their naked pictures on the internet. He pleaded guilty in 2006 in Savannah, Georgia, to federal charges of sexual exploitation of children and making false statements. He is serving a 30-year sentence.
USA Gymnastics, in response to questions from IndyStar, defended its handling of child abuse complaints. It said it follows reporting laws and is doing enough to protect children.
Steve Penny, the organization’s president, declined to be interviewed, citing privacy issues of those involved and the ongoing lawsuit in the McCabe case. But he released this statement: “USA Gymnastics has a long and proactive history of developing policy to protect its athletes and will remain diligent in evaluating new and best practices which should be implemented".
A blind eye to sex abuse: How USA Gymnastics failed to report cases Marisa Kwiatkowski, Mark Alesia and Tim Evans
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