By Makini Brice and David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The president of Michigan State University, who resigned in the wake of a scandal involving a doctor who was convicted of molesting young female gymnasts, apologised in written testimony before a U.S. Senate Committee on Tuesday.
"I am so sorry that a trusted, renowned physician turned out to be an evil predator, and I am sorry that we did not discover his crimes and remove him from our community sooner," Lou Anna Simon, who resigned as president of Michigan State in January, said in testimony. "Now, my hope is that we learn from these horrific events." Nassar worked at an on-campus clinic at Michigan State.
Simon and Steve Penny, who stepped down as president of USA Gymnastics, have been criticized for not doing enough to halt abuse by Larry Nassar, who worked as a doctor for USA Gymnastics. Penny has been subpoenaed to appear before the committee but it was unclear if he would testify on Tuesday.
Nassar received prison sentences of up to 175 and 125 years in two Michigan courts, and 60 years in a separate federal case.
Many victims testified in the Michigan cases that Nassar sexually abused them under the guise of medical treatment while on his examination table, sometimes hiding it from view of nearby parents.
The revelations of the long-running abuses sparked investigations by Congress and the U.S. Department of Education into possible offences at U.S. athletic federations and schools.
The scandal also led to the resignation of the entire USA Gymnastics board, and Scott Blackmun, the head of the U.S. Olympic Committee, who left in February, citing medical reasons.
"I am deeply sorry for those who were harmed and horrified that this happened on my watch," Blackmun said in a written statement released by the committee. "The suffering and brave testimony of the victims and their families will be a painful memory for the rest of my days."
Last month, hundreds of women sexually abused by Nassar tentatively agreed to a $500 million settlement with Michigan State.
Penny resigned in March 2017, saying it was in the best interests of the sport.
Kerry Perry, chief executive officer of USA Gymnastics since December, apologised last month to hundreds of female athletes sexually abused by Nassar and told a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee hearing "those days are over."
A third official, Rhonda Faehn, who was the women's programme director of USA Gymnastics and was dismissed last month, also is scheduled to testify Tuesday.
In written testimony, Faehn said she notified Penny of gymnasts' complaints and he "assured me that he would" contact authorities. Faehn said she was fired shortly after she told Penny that she had been asked to testify before the Senate.
(Reporting by Makini Brice; Additional reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)
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Updated Date: Jun 06, 2018 01:06:21 IST