USA Gymnastics CEO to apologize to abuse victims

USA Gymnastics CEO Kerry Perry plans to offer a direct apology Wednesday to the gymnasts who were abused by Larry Nassar when she addresses a House subcommittee tasked with examining the Olympic community's role in recent sexual assault scandals.

In her first public comments since taking over in December, Perry plans to update the representatives on the changes USA Gymnastics has made in 2018 to repair a culture where warning signs of abuse went unheeded for years.

The subcommittee started its probe in the wake of a sentencing hearing for Nassar, the former national medical coordinator for USA Gymnastics who admitted to using his position to molest his patients -- most of whom were young female gymnasts. Nassar is serving 60 years in federal prison on child pornography charges before he begins a sentence of up to 175 years for sexual assault charges.

"I want to apologize to all who were harmed by the horrific acts of Larry Nassar," Perry wrote in an opening statement that she plans to read at Wednesday's hearing, which was first reported by USA Today. "... Let there be no mistake; those days are over. USA Gymnastics is on a new path, with new leadership, and a commitment to ensure this will never happen again."

Perry says in her statement that the organization hopes to resume settlement talks in August for the hundreds of civil lawsuits it faces from women who say Nassar abused them. USA Gymnastics is one of several defendants in those lawsuits, along with the U.S. Olympic Committee, Michigan State University and Twistars, a Michigan gym where Nassar treated patients on a weekly basis for many years.

Michigan State agreed last week to pay $425 million to the 332 claimants suing the university to settle its part in those suits, and the school also agreed to set aside an additional $75 million for any claims within the next two years. Several of the women who were present for mediation discussions that led to that settlement said they were disappointed that terms of the agreement didn't include any promises for institutional reform. They now hope legislators like those that sit on the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations that can help enact the changes in policy they are seeking.

Several other leaders from the Olympic community are expected to join Perry at Wednesday's hearing in Washington, D.C. U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Susanne Lyons is scheduled to attend along with the top-ranking official from the national organizations that govern taekwondo, swimming and volleyball. All three of those organizations are embroiled in their own scandals about how accusations of sexual abuse have been handled in the past.

A similar hearing held by U.S. Senators was scheduled for Tuesday but has been pushed back because former USA Gymnastics CEO Steve Penny -- the man Perry replaced in December -- and famed national team coach Martha Karolyi declined invitations to speak. Former Michigan State president Lou Anna Simon accepted the invite and is expected to speak when the hearing is held in June.

USA Gymnastics hired former federal prosecutor Deborah Daniels to review its culture and recommend changes. Perry plans to tell Congress her organization has implemented 80 percent of the policy changes that Daniels suggested in a report she published last June. Perry said they plan to eventually implement all of them.