May 29, 2018 / 5:03 PM / 5 months ago

Ex-Michigan State University head to testify to Congress on abuse of athletes

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A former Michigan State University President and a former USA Gymnastics President will testify June 5 to a U.S. Senate committee about efforts to protect athletes from abuse following the scandal of the gymnastics team doctor’s sexual assault of gymnasts, the panel said on Tuesday.

Michigan State University (MSU) President Lou Anna Simon speaks after being confronted by victims during a break at the sentencing hearing for Larry Nassar, a former team USA Gymnastics doctor who pleaded guilty in November 2017 to sexual assault charges, in Lansing, Michigan, U.S., January 17, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Lou Anna Simon resigned from Michigan State in January and Steve Perry from USA Gymnastics in March 2017. Both were criticized for not doing enough to halt abuse by doctor Larry Nassar, who was convicted of molesting gymnasts in 2017 and was sentenced to an effective life term in prison.

A third former official, Rhonda Faehn, who was the women’s program director of USA Gymnastics, would also testify to the U.S. Senate Commerce subcommittee in June, the panel said.

Earlier this month, hundreds of women sexually abused by Nassar tentatively agreed to a $500 million settlement with the university.

The revelations of abuses by Nassar dating back to the 1990s, including some star Olympic gymnasts, led to several investigations.

The entire USA Gymnastics board resigned and the head of the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) also resigned, citing medical reasons.

Kerry Perry, chief executive of USA Gymnastics since December, last week apologized to hundreds of female athletes who were sexually abused by Nassar and told a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee hearing that “those days are over.”

From January through April, USA Gymnastics had received about 275 reports of sexual abuse, and it sent about 75 of them to the Center for SafeSport for investigation, Perry said.

Representative Gregg Harper, the oversight subcommittee’s chairman, said that it was unclear if the USOC had followed its own procedures in investigating allegations of sexual abuse.

Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Grant McCool

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