former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar
former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar

Sexual abuse in sports: the most notorious cases

sports December 08, 2017 07:23

By AFP

Los Angeles - Former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, who has been accused of sexually assaulting more than 100 young girls, was jailed for 60 years on Thursday for child pornography charges.



Here AFP looks at notorious abuse cases to rock the world of sport in recent years:

- USA GYMNASTICS -

Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics doctor, could face life in prison when he is sentenced on sexual assault charges next month.

Nassar has been accused of molesting more than 100 female athletes during the three decades he worked with USA Gymnastics.

Olympic gold medalists McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas are among the members of the USA Gymnastics team who have said they were sexually assaulted by Nassar.

Nassar's case was part of a wide-ranging scandal which forced the resignation of USA Gymnastics chief Steve Penny in March. Penny was accused by victims of failing to quickly notify authorities about abuse allegations.

USA Gymnastics adopted a new "safe sport policy" in response to the Nassar scandal that requires "mandatory reporting" of suspicions of sexual abuse.

A civil lawsuit has been filed on behalf of about 100 of Nassar's victims. Their attorney, John Manly, estimated that the total number could be as high as 160.

- ENGLISH FOOTBALL -

English sport has been rocked by a wave of allegations of sex abuse, mostly affecting football.

According to figures released in July by the National Police Chiefs Council, 741 victims have come forward to detail allegations against some 276 figures according to information obtained in Britain's inquiry into child sexual abuse named Operation Hydrant.

Football is at the centre of the investigation, with some 328 clubs from Premier League to amateur level being investigated.

Several ex-professional players have come forward publicly to allege abuse at the hands of youth coaches after Andy Woodward revealed last November he was abused by a convicted child molester at Crewe Alexandra.

English football's governing body, the Football Association (FA), is also carrying out an independent review into its handling of abuse allegations in the years before 2005.

Although football is the main focus of the British probe, other sports have been implicated in 27 referrals.

These include basketball, rugby, gymnastics, martial arts, tennis, wrestling, golf, sailing, athletics, cricket and swimming.

- USA SWIMMING -

USA Swimming was engulfed in scandal in 2010 when a television news investigation revealed myriad cases of sexual misconduct of various forms by coaches.

Cases uncovered included Andy King, a coach who was sentenced to 40 years in prison after authorities discovered a pattern of sexual abuse that stretched over three decades at clubs up and down the West Coast and involved more than a dozen teenaged female victims -- one of whom said she had an abortion after he got her pregnant when she was 14.

Another case involved a coach who installed a secret camera to film young women swimmers showering.

While more than 100 coaches were eventually banned for life from working for USA Swimming-affiliated clubs, the federation was blasted for an inadequate response to complaints that in some cases allowed coaches to evade their accusers and authorities, moving to new cities and gaining coaching jobs at new clubs where they continued predatory behavior.

King, who was sentenced in 2010, had passed a USA Swimming background screening in 2008.

- PENN STATE SCANDAL -

The world of college American football was rocked in 2011 when Pennsylvania State University assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was indicted on dozens of counts of child molestation.

Sandusky, who coached one of America's most illustrious college football teams, recruited his young victims through a charity he founded for troubled youths.

The case scandalized the United States and tarnished the legacy of the university.

It led to the sacking of Penn State's legendary head coach Joe Paterno, a national icon, just weeks before his unexpected death from lung cancer in January 2012 at the age of 85.

Paterno was fired for failing to notify authorities when he was told Sandusky had been seen molesting a boy in the shower. The university's president, Graham Spanier, was also sacked.

Sandusky was given a 30 to 60 year prison sentence after being convicted in 2012 of 45 counts of abuse relating to 10 boys.

Penn State later paid out $60 million in settlements to 26 victims abused by Sandusky. Although his crimes related to a period between 1994 and 2009, prosecutors suspect his abuse may have begun in the 1970s.