The leading figure of USA Gymnastics is headed to Capitol Hill. USA Gymnastics CEO Kerry Perry will apologize to Larry Nassar's survivors in a House subcommittee hearing on Wednesday, according to her opening statement.
The House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations shared Perry's statement on Tuesday. In it, Perry starts off by apologizing to the girls and women Nassar abused:
First, I want to apologize to all who were harmed by the horrific acts of Larry Nassar. I was in the courtroom to listen to the incredibly courageous women explain in vivid and painful detail the damage he did to their lives.
On Wednesday, Perry will testify before the House subcommittee in a hearing titled "Examining the Olympic Community’s Ability to Protect Athletes from Sexual Abuse." At 10 a.m. in Washington, D.C., Perry will make her very first public appearance since she became the head of the USA Gymnastics in December.
In January, during a sentence hearing in Lansing, Michigan, Nassar's victims shared the harrowing and disturbing details of sexual abuse that they suffered under the USA Gymnastics' former national team doctor. later Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 125 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to the sexual assault of minors. More than 160 women have accused Nassar of sexual abuse, who is now serving his sentence in the United States Penitentiary in Tucson, Arizona.
At least two lawsuits have been filed against USA Gymnastics in the wake of the Nassar scandal. In her statement, Perry said the organization was "participating in mediation in order to resolve the athletes' claims fairly and expeditiously."
Perry's opening statement states that she was moved by the women's accounts of abuse by Nassar. "Their powerful voices will not be forgotten. I commit to you that I will keep their words and experiences at the core of every decision I make, every day, as the leader of this organization. Their stories have broken my heart, but also strengthened my resolve," the statement read. "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 never happens again."
In her statement, Perry said that USA Gymnastics had gone under several changes in the "past five months." Among those changes were "difficult personnel decisions," the shutting down of the National Team Training Center at Karolyi Ranch, Texas, and support for federal law that would "safeguard amateur athletes."
Perry's statement also highlighted structural changes made to the Safe Sport department, namely that five new roles had been added to the department. In her statement, she said that four of those five figures "will live in the regions they cover throughout the United States to better support, train, educate, and serve members."
The USA Gymnastics CEO also said that the organization had created an "Athlete Task Force" whose role was to "help shape our organization's future in its strategic and operation decisions." USA Gymnastics would comply with "80 percent" of the recommendations made by former federal attorney Deborah Daniels, according to Perry's statement.
Perry's statement said that the USA Gymnastics would follow a "Safe Sport Policy" which involved four points, including "mandatory reporting" of sexual abuse, clear definitions of the kinds of misconduct, standards that out-ruled "grooming behavior," and a move to enforce "greater accountability." If athletes experience sexual abuse within the organization, Perry's statement noted that they can report misconduct by using the toll-free number (833-844-SAFE). Athletes will also have "listening forums" for communal support.
It is difficult to say whether the changes Perry listed will sufficiently address the USA Gymnastics' history of sexual abuse. Still, the CEO said in her statement that these internal changes were focused on fulfilling a "cultural commitment" to the well-being, safety, and prosperity of American athletes.