Another 50 gymnasts have signed on to sue the U.S. Olympic Committee, its officers and directors for sexual abuses suffered at the hands of national team doctor Larry Nassar and some coaches.
That brings the total to 101 plaintiffs.
A second lawsuit was filed against the U.S. Olympic Committee — based in Colorado Springs — and other defendants on Tuesday alleging that the committee, its officers and directors failed to prevent and concealed the continued abuse.
The first lawsuit representing 51 girls and women was filed earlier this month in U.S. District Court in Colorado. The filing asked for an unspecified amount in damages, and the plaintiffs demanded reform and accountability to protect future athletes.
After the first lawsuit was filed, additional gymnasts came forward.
Attorney Kimberly Dougherty said her office has worked with the 50 girls and women on cases related to Nassar’s abuse in Michigan, implicating the actions of Michigan State University and the continued access it allowed Nassar to the young athletes as a doctor at the university.
Dougherty said attorneys are in negotiations with MSU, but those cases did not include the U.S. Olympic Committee.
However, as more information came out about Nassar’s abuses and the role the Olympics organization had in failing to protect the athletes, the gymnasts decided to join the Colorado lawsuit and take efforts into their own hands through litigation, Dougherty said.
“People are feeling more comfortable taking back their voices and holding organizations accountable,” she said.
A third-party investigative report issued Dec. 10, 2018, brought more of that information into the public eye.
In the past, the abuses were swept under the rug, and the victims didn’t feel any power or control, Dougherty said. Even with Congressional hearings on the issue and mandatory reporting requirements, many of the victims still felt the U.S. Olympic Committee was taking a “blasé” approach to the issue.
“It has been pretty enraging for some of them,” Dougherty said. “From their perspective, it’s not being taken seriously.”
She hopes a judge will allow the two lawsuits, which include similar allegations from different girls and women, to be consolidated.
A representative from the U.S. Olympic Committee declined to comment about the initial lawsuit, saying he couldn’t comment on pending litigation.
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