USA Gymnastics are now making steps to help its gymnasts with a newly announced Athlete Assistance Fund, which is in cooperation with the National Gymnastics Foundation. This fund will provide financial assistance for gymnasts who have been sexually assaulted or abused, and wish to seek counseling.
"While we can never fully understand how profoundly abusers impact the lives of their survivors, we want to provide financial support to make sure our gymnasts have access to the counseling and mental health services they need," said Kerry Perry, the new president and CEO of USA Gymnastics. "We appreciate the National Gymnastics Foundation working with us in this effort. The powerful voices of the young women who have shared their experiences with sexual abuse have left an indelible imprint on me and will impact my decisions as president and CEO every day."
The fund is still fairly new, so gymnasts and their families will be able to contact the fund confidentially through a toll-free phone number, which will provide more information including the specific services administered through an independent third party. The announcement comes in the wake of Larry Nassar's disturbing court case. Last month, the former USA Gymnastics doctor was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison after pleading guilty to seven counts of criminal sexual conduct. He was previously sentenced to 60 years in prison for federal child pornography charges.
Most recently, former U.S. Olympic gymnastics coach John Geddert is under criminal investigation, NBC reports. He worked closely with Nassar and quickly retired after being suspended by the USA Gymnastics for undisclosed reasons. A group of U.S. senators are also investigating the organization and the United States Olympic Committee to see how they handled the sexual abuse allegations. Gabby Douglas, Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney and dozens of other young women have all bravely spoke out against Nassar.
“Our hearts go out to all of the survivors affected by sexual abuse within USA Gymnastics,” said Tina Ferriola, the chair of the Designated Fund Committee that will oversee the fund. “We hope this fund will provide guidance and financial assistance in securing the necessary counseling services in support of the healing process for survivors of sexual abuse, as well as a method for our community to show their support directly to the athletes that need our assistance.”