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USA Gymnastics Fulfills Advocate, Counsel Mandates

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USA TODAY

 

USA Gymnastics on Wednesday announced the hiring of a director of safe sport and an in-house legal counsel, filling positions created in response to a sexual abuse scandal that has engulfed the organization for nearly a year.

Toby Stark will serve as USA Gymnastics' director of safe sport, and former prosecutor Mark Busby will serve as legal counsel.

The positions were part of 70recommendations USA Gymnastics' board adopted last month after the conclusion of a review by Deborah Daniels, a former federal prosecutor.

Daniels' report found USA Gymnastics needs a "complete cultural change" after not doing enough to educate its staff, members and athletes about protecting children from sexual abuse and failing to ensure that safeguards were being followed.

"These two professionals will help us better protect athletes and continually enhance the systems and processes we have in place," USA Gymnastics chief operating officer Ron Galimore said in a statement. "Bringing this expertise to USA Gymnastics is another important step, because the well-being of athletes is a top priority."

Stark is a longtime child advocate, supporting Chaucie's Place, an organization focused on child sexual abuse and youth suicide prevention, for the last seven years. Busby was a deputy prosecuting attorney in Marion County (Ind.) for nearly 14 years, handling cases involving domestic violence, child abuse, homicide and major felonies.

In her role at USA Gymnastics, Stark will oversee all aspects of USA Gymnastics' safe sport policies, educational programs, reporting and adjudication. She will report safe sport issues to the organization's board of directors.

Busby will handle information about potential abuse, direct investigations and coordinate with the U.S. Center for SafeSport. The U.S. Olympic Committee created that independent entity to handle reports of sexual abuse in Olympic sports.

USA Gymnastics hired Daniels last fall to review its practices and policies after criticism of its handling of sex abuse complaints, including a case involving the longtime team physician that has resulted in federal charges.

The Indianapolis Star, which is part of the USA TODAY Network, has reported more than 360 cases in which gymnasts have accused coaches of sexual transgressions over 20 years. According to the Lansing (Mich.) State Journal, which is also part of the USA TODAY Network, at least 95 gymnasts have alleged sexual abuse by Larry Nassar, who was the national team physician from 1996 to 2015.

This month, Nassar agreed to a plea deal to federal child pornography charges, according to a copy of the agreement obtained by the Journal.

According to the newspaper, Nassar is being sued by more than 115 women and girls, with all but one of the plaintiffs saying he sexually assaulted them during medical appointments. USA Gymnastics has been named as a co-defendant in some of the lawsuits.

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July 20, 2017
 
 
 

 

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