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Plea Deal for Doctor Accused of Sex Abuse Draws Criticism

Olympic athleteA number of former Olympic athletes have been very vocal in calling for changes within USA Gymnastics (USAG), one of the most prominent Olympic organizations in the world. In recent months, the sport has been rocked by allegations made by more than 100 current and former gymnasts against a team doctor they say engaged in long-standing patterns of sexual abuse.

“A Breach of Faith”

Last month, the doctor reached a plea deal with federal prosecutors in Michigan, admitting guilt for three counts related to child pornography. As part of his deal, he will not face federal charges related to the alleged sexual abuse of four young women, including two minor who alleged they were abused in 2015. As one might expect, the outcry following the announcement of the plea agreement has been substantial.

An attorney for many of the gymnasts alleging abuse against the doctor fears that despite the government’s claims that the plea deal only affects four specific victims, up to 10 percent of the 119 young women could now face additional trouble being heard. He said that the plea agreement is a sign that federal prosecutors believe that the abuse his clients are alleging “didn’t happen or it doesn’t matter. In my view, that’s a breach of faith with our athletes.”

According to the U.S. Attorney’s office and outside experts, the doctor’s plea deal could still land him in prison for up to 60 years, with 22 to 27 years as a rough starting point. With no other convictions, the 53-year-old doctor could spend most of the rest of his life in prison, which experts think was the whole point of the agreement. The plea deal all but guarantees a significant prison sentence, while ongoing sexual abuse investigations and prosecutions could take years to develop, and many victims may not want to testify as it moves along.

Changes Needed in USAG?

In the wake of the scandal, several prominent athletes, including Olympic gold-medalist Aly Raisman, are holding USA Gymnastics officials responsible for allowing and covering up the doctor’s abusive behavior for years. Raisman called the doctor a “monster” and referred to the sex abuse scandal as “the elephant in the room. “Nobody has said, ‘This is horrible; this is what we’re doing to change,'” she said.

She took issue, in particular, with a $1 million severance package given to USAG’s former president who resigned in March as the scandal broke. Raisman pointed out that “a million dollars is a lot of money. They could do a lot of things to create change” including starting prevention programs or assisting victims with therapy needs.

We Help sex Abuse Victims

If you or a loved one has been sexually abused, the criminal element of the case is only one part. You may also be entitled to collect compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other damages. Contact a compassionate San Jose sexual abuse attorney to explore your options. Call (408) 289-1417 for a free, confidential consultation at Corsiglia McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. today.

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