USA Gymnastics announced Thursday that it has hired a former federal prosecutor to review the national governing body's handling of sexual misconduct cases.
Deborah J. Daniels, managing partner of Indianapolis-based Krieg DeVault LLP, will analyze USA Gymnastics’ bylaws, policies, procedures and practices related to handling sexual misconduct matters and consult with stakeholders, according to the news release. And she will issue a recommendation to the USA Gymnastics Board of Directors.
USA Gymnastics' announcement is the first time this year that the organization has acknowledged a need to examine its handling of sexual misconduct cases.
In August, an Indianapolis Star investigation revealed the Indianapolis-based organization failed to alert authorities to many allegations of sexual abuse involving its coaches. A month later, IndyStar also found allegations of sexual misconduct against Dr. Larry Nassar, a former USA Gymnastics team physician.
The organization is facing several lawsuits relating to its handling of such allegations.
When asked why it decided to hire Daniels to review its policies, the national governing body said in a statement: "This topic has been important to USA Gymnastics for many years, and we believe it is appropriate to review our practices in this manner." There is no timeline for completing the review, but the organization said it will share the results with the public.
“Deborah’s background makes her the right choice to lead this important effort because the well-being of our athletes is paramount,” Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics, said in a statement. “We believe Deborah’s review of our current practices against today’s standards in this critical area, coupled with interviewing members of the gymnastics community and authorities in related areas, will generate recommendations on what needs refinement to further promote athlete safety.”
Daniels has practiced law with Krieg DeVault for 16 years. Before that, she served as a U.S. attorney and U.S. assistant attorney general, as well as a supervisor of the sex offense and child abuse unit of the Marion County prosecutor’s office in her role as chief counsel to the prosecutor.
“Nothing is more important than the safety of all athletes and young people,” Daniels said in a statement. “This evaluation is intended to review and strengthen the existing USA Gymnastics process, in addition to likely yielding important insights for other youth-serving organizations.”