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Independent group to investigate gymnastics sex abuse case

Former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for sex abuse © AFP/File / JEFF KOWALSKY

WASHINGTON, United States, Jan 29 – A US Olympic Committee selection panel has already started the search for an independent investigator into the USA Gymnastics sex abuse scandal, a member of the group said Monday.

The investigation will conduct a total review of USOC and USA Gymnastics’ actions that contributed to former US team doctor Larry Nassar’s decades of sexual abuse to girls and young women under the guise of medical treatments. The results will be made public.

“We are committed to ensuring a process that is independent, transparent, sensitive and accessible to those who wish to provide input to the independent investigator,” said Susanne Lyons, an independent member of the USOC board of directors and chair of USA Gymnastics’ Working Group.

The investigation comes after Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for sex abuse. More than 150 victims of his molestation testified against him at a sentencing hearing that lasted more than a week.

Women have complained that those who might have stopped Nassar ignored warnings and failed to initiate safeguards, including USA Gymnastics and USOC personnel as well as those of Michigan State University, where Nassar also worked.

The college has already seen its president and athletic director step down in the wake of revelations about the sex abuse while the complete USA Gymnastics board of directors has agreed to resign as part of requirement by the USOC in order for the organization to remain a national sport governing body.

Lyons said the probe will “determine what complaints were made, when, to whom, and what was done in response.”

“The investigation will be conducted by an experienced, independent third-party organization and will include a complete and unencumbered review of USA Gymnastics, the USOC, and all individuals associated with the organizations, including access to relevant data and documents.”

The USOC subcommittee created to select the independent investigator that will look into USOC potential misdeeds as well includes a host of former business executives.

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Lyons is a former Visa USA vice president and marketing chief and she will work alongside independent USOC board of directors member Robert Bach, a retired Microsoft executive, and board member Whitney Ping, an athlete representative who was a 2004 US table tennis Olympian and a Bain Capital investments vice president.

Lyons said the group has started to review qualifications and interview candidates as well as evaluate possible conflicts of interest to ensure independence by the investigator.

“The selection committee expects to complete its review and make a selection in the coming days and the investigation will launch immediately,” Lyons said.

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