EAST LANSING, Mich. – During a hearing before a U.S. Senate subcommittee on Capitol Hill, former USA Gymnastics leaders and former Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon testified on the Larry Nassar case.
"Not a day goes by without me wishing that they'd been caught and punished sooner," Simon said.
Many of the survivors of Nassar's abuse attended the hearing, but they didn't get the answers they were expecting because the former president of USA Gymnastics invoked his Fifth Amendment right and Simon offered answers that only said what she didn't know, not what she did know.
"I am truly horrified that Nassar's crime happened during my tenure," Simon said. "I did not know that he was sexually abusing young women until a former youth gymnast bravely filed her complaint in 2016. Had I known, I would have taken immediate action to prevent him from preying on additional survivors, including terminating his employment and reporting him to police, as was done in 2016. Not a day goes by without me wishing that he had been caught and punished sooner, and not a day goes by without me wondering what we missed or what we could have done to detect his evil."
During the congressional hearing, Steve Penny, the former president of USA Gymnastics, refused to answer any questions. It got to a point where the ranking chairman kicked him out of the hearing.
"My understanding is that you waited 41 days to contact law enforcement, is that correct?" Jerry Moran asked.
"Mr. Chairman, respectfully, I would like to answer your question," Penny said. "However, I have been instructed by my attorney to assert my rights under the Fifth Amendment."
"You have that right, but you also have a responsibility," Sen. Richard Blumenthal said. "You were part of an organization that, in effect, prioritized medals and money over the young women and girls."
"We certainly would have liked to have been able to hear from you today," Moran said. "Mr. Penny, you are excused."
Nothing has yet been said that will help the committee move forward, but the overarching issue is that the subcommittee wanted to hear answers on what went wrong and how they can prevent a similar incident from happening again.
One of the senators asked if coaches or athletic trainers receive bonuses or financial compensation based on the success of the athletes. The answer was yes, so officials are likely to go back and look at whether trainers might have been turning a blind eye so they didn't lose their bonus.