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Female Gymnasts Sue Team USA Doctor for Decades of Sexual Abuse

A former Team USA doctors for the Olympic gymnastics team, along with the USA Gymnastics organization, and Michigan State University, are currently facing a civil lawsuit as a result of decades of alleged sexual abuse by the one doctor against minor athletes. Nearly 20 former and current athletes have alleged that Dr. Lawrence Nassar sexually abused them while he was conducting medical examinations on them.

The allegations stem back to the 1990s, and include claims that the doctor would grope and molest athletes during medical examinations, and would even digitally penetrate them as part of bogus procedures. In addition to the civil lawsuit, Nassar is facing federal criminal charges for possession of child pornography. The child pornography charges allege that Nassar possessed child pornography from 2003 to 2016. If convicted on those charges alone, Nassar could be facing anywhere from 5 to 40 years in prison.

Organizational Liability for Coaches and Doctors

The organizations that employed and recommended Nassar could face some civil liability, potentially, depending on what is discovered about their knowledge of the abuse. Generally, if an organization or school has no reason to know about or to suspect abuse, then it may be difficult to find the organization liable for the illegal actions of a coach or team doctor

 Schools and organizations have a duty to protect students from foreseeable injuries, but there are limits to what a school or organization can be held liable for. However, frequently, in civil actions, an organization will pay the settlements or verdicts on behalf of the bad actors that are held liable.

In the case of Nassar, the school and organization had received complaints about Nassar’s conduct in past, yet nothing was done until the Summer of 2015, when the organization USA Gymnastics claims to have first received complaints of abuse about Nassar. At that time, the organization cut ties with the doctor and reported the complaints to the FBI, but failed to report the abuse to the university where Nassar worked.

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