Gymnastics News Network
By Terri Laymon
So much negative behavior has been brought to light in the gymnastics community lately that it certainly has brought out the courageousness in many that may not have stepped forward before. The sexual abuse scandal is not the only focus that people should be aware of these days.
GNN has discovered that one coach in particular, is still coaching within the USAG system, even though he actually witnessed a former gym owner and head coach sexually abusing a child. Through court documents dating back from January 2007, indicated that a Jane Doe brought suit against Michael West and USAG for sexual abuse acts that happened in the 1980s at West’s gym.
Michael West owned and operated Gymnastics West, which was in Oregon during the 1980s, where the sexual abuse with Jan Doe began. Doe’s abuse began before she was selected to be a member of the junior national team for USA and continued throughout her career as a gymnast. West would abuse Doe at the gym, at his home, in the car, at the USAG training camp, and while traveling for competitions within the United States and abroad.
Once while West was abusing Doe, West’s assistant coach (Sam McBride) actually walked in on West and Doe, witnessing the abuse taking place. Court documentation states, ’West managed to talk McBride out of doing anything, relying on their long friendship as well as West’s promise never to do anything like it again.’
McBride did not report the abuse that was taking place to the police, the parents, or to USA Gymnastics, even though the sexual abuse continued on a monthly or bi-weekly basis up until approximately 1990.
West was deemed permanently ineligible from USA Gymnastics, while McBride went on to coach at other facilities landing at Naydenov Gymnastics in Vancouver, Washington, where he is still coaching. He coaches all levels from parent-tot to Intermediate girls and above.
The question in this situation is why did so many girls stay and why would parents let their children stay in this type of environment?
I know that this is not the only case out there that has gone unnoticed. It is probable and entirely possible that within the USAG system, there is more than a handful of similar cases where nothing is being done.
Parents, co-workers, or gymnasts themselves may realize that something is wrong, but do not want to stir the pot or report the abuse because they feel this is normal and it is what it takes to become one of the best gymnasts.
This is NOT normal and it is NOT okay!
My question is, “WHY?” Why are coaches still allowed to coach within the USAG system even though they have been part of, witnessed, or have actually been the person who abused young girls, whether that abuse was sexual, physical, or emotional?
If a report has been filed within the USAG system or in a court document, these coaches should NOT be working in this profession!
I have made suggestions in the past that the USA Gymnastics governing body needs to have a list that is accessible to gym owners, coaches, parents, and gymnasts of those that have had any type of complaint filed against them. This should be made public and easily accessible. The United States Medical Board has such a system where you can look up a physician to see if they have had any type of complaint filed against them or any type of malpractice claims.
Because we know that there are so many cases of abuse happening right now with the majority afraid to speak up, GNN has created a “tip line” for any to call at any time. We will research the claim and report the abuse and the abuser.
GNN TIP LINE:
Our goal is to help make this sport fun and safe!
Source: Superior Court of Washington, USAG
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