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Senate committee grills former Michigan State University president about Larry Nassar

Lou Anna Simon faces Senate committee on Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – There might be more questions than answers Tuesday after a Senate committee grilled former Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon and USA Gymnastics leaders about the failures that allowed Larry Nassar to abuse thousands of young girls.

Nobody admitted to turning a blind eye, which makes preventing something similar from happening in the future even more difficult.

Simon, Steve Penny, the former president of USA Gymnastics, and a USA Gymnastics staff member sat in front of the Senate committee, but only two gave testimony.

Penny refused to answer anything.

"My understanding is that you waited 41 days to contact law enforcement, is that correct?" Chairman 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."

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Many in attendance, including survivors of Nassar's abuse, were hoping for bombshells of new information to be dropped, but that never happened.

"I did not that he was sexually abusing young women until a former youth gymnast bravely filed her complaint in 2016," Simon said. "Had I known, I would have taken immediate action to prevent him from preying on additional survivors."

One takeaway was that some in USA Gymnastics receive bonuses for athletes' success, implying they might have incentive to risk the safety of athletes for money.

Another point, according to Sen. Gary Peters, was that university presidents should be forced to review all Title IX complaints and investigations, as opposed to relying on others.

"I don't believe any president should just rely on other folks," Peters said. "Ultimately, the buck stops with the president of the university. They need to be aware of Title IX investigations that involve their employees at the university."

The committee is planning more hearings in the future as it hopes to find answers about who knew what and prevent it from happening again.

You can watch the full hearing in the video below:


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