Judge: Unseal USA Gymnastics Abuse Records

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A judge in Georgia ruled Monday that files held by USA Gymnastics regarding sexual abuse complaints against coaches should be made public.

A lawsuit filed in Georgia by a former gymnast claims that USA Gymnastics, the sport’s national governing body, was negligent in how it handled complaints of child abuse. The suit alleges that the organization didn’t take appropriate action to address previous complaints about the girl’s former coach, William McCabe, and that because of their failure to act, McCabe was able to abuse her.

The ruling was made after a motion to make the records public was filed by The Indianapolis Star. An investigation by the IndyStar earlier this month showed that USA Gymnastics officials rarely, if ever, forwarded complaints about sexual abuse to authorities unless explicitly asked to do so. The IndyStar revealed four separate instances in which coaches that the organization had been warned about went on to abuse young gymnasts.

Related: USA Gymnastics Under Fire for Abuse Allegations

Judge Ronald K. Thompson agreed to unseal 54 sex abuse complaint files and 12 depositions that were taken in the case, but will review them to ensure sensitive information, such as private information about the alleged victims or their families, isn’t released by mistake.

USA Gymnastics said it plans to appeal the ruling, which could delay or reverse the decision. The organization argued in court that the motion constituted a "witch hunt," and that its rights and those of its members would be irrevocably violated if the files were made public. 

If the decision is upheld and the records are released, they could provide deeper insight into how USA Gymnastics handled complaints about sexual abuse. 

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