by Audrey Conklin
The Justice Department reportedly opened an investigation into sexual abuse related to U.S. Olympic sports organizations, as well as possible financial misconduct.
The DOJ’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, as well as the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, reportedly issued subpoenas earlier in 2019 to various Olympic organizations including the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) and the U.S. Center for SafeSport, according to The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the matter.
Prosecutors from the money-laundering and child exploitation units have reportedly talked to potential witnesses about abuse and misconduct claims in Olympic organizations such as USA Gymnastics and USA Taekwondo.
“While the issues being investigated likely pre-date the US Center for SafeSport, we understand the Department’s interest in the independent Center’s mission and how it addresses sexual misconduct across the Olympic Movement today; we are providing information when it’s requested,” SafeSport told the Daily Caller News Foundation in a statement.
USOPC spokesman Mark Jones told the DCNF that “every instance related to potential or actual abuse of athletes warrants thorough investigation.”
“We have cooperated with all government inquiries and will continue to do so,” he said.
Reports of the investigation come after Larry Nassar, a former U.S. women’s national gymnastics team doctor, was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for sexual abuse in January 2018 after pleading guilty to 10 sexual assault charges. It’s also less than a year until the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are set to begin.
“USA Gymnastics is striving to become an athlete-centric organization that keeps athlete safety and well-being at the forefront of everything it does. … USA Gymnastics has cooperated fully with any government investigation and will continue to do so in the future,” a USA gymnastics spokesperson told TheWSJ in an email.
USA Taekwondo said while it’s “limited in what we can say while legal proceedings move forward, we want to state clearly that above all else, our top priority at USA Taekwondo is the safety of our athletes,” according to The Hill.
“USATKD believes that education for parents, athletes, trainers and coaches is the key to providing a safe and positive experience for everyone involved in competitive sports. We believe that abusive or predatory behavior has no place in our sport. We are fully committed to doing everything we can to ensure that our athletes are protected, valued, and supported,” the statement continued.
The DOJ, USATKD and USA Gymnastics did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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Audrey Conklin is a reporter for the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Photo “US Gymnastics” by USA Gymnastics.