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American gymnastics error in Maggie Haney’s abuse leads to more frustration – Orange County Register




On February 3, after months of delays, USA Gymnastics opened a hearing to determine whether Maggie Haney, the internationally renowned trainer of the Olympic and world champions, had verbally and emotionally abused young athletes.

After 13 days of often stormy and tearful testimony over the course of two months, USA Gymnastics officials told parties involved earlier this month that the hearing panel would make a decision in this matter on April 22 .

So, with Haney and his supporters on one side, and dozens of young gymnasts who claim to have been mistreated by Haney or bullied in competition or training while injured and their parents on the other, everyone has waited all day and Wednesday night for a phone call or email from USA Gymnastics. One more day of anxiety and tears before a controversy that began in the days after the 2016 Olympics is finally resolved.

But Wednesday came and went without a decision from USA Gymnastics. No e-mail. No calls. Nothing.

So, what happened?

Officials at Apologetic USA Gymnastics told the parties on Thursday that they had made a mistake when they originally said that the panel’s decision would be announced on April 22.

USA Gymnastics General Counsel Mark Busby said the organization actually wanted to have a decision by April 29, but gave a wrong date due to a timing error, said four people aware of emails from Busby and USA Gymnastics Safe Sport staff at the Southern California News Group.

They apologized, said Russell Prince, a lawyer for Haney, referring to an email from Busby. It was a badly read calendar problem.

The mistake is the latest misstep from USA Gymnastics, the Indianapolis-based national governing body that has stumbled across a series of controversies and public relations debacles following the sexual abuse scandals of Larry Nassar and Don Peters .

USA Gymnastics is currently fighting for its financial life in the US bankruptcy court, with almost all of the survivors of Nassars 517 telling SCNG they would vote to reject the US $ 217 million settlement offer from USA Gymnastics which divides the survivors four levels.

USA Gymnastics does not determine when a hearing panel will make a decision, USA Gymnastics said in a statement on Thursday. We understand that the panel continues to deliberate to ensure that its decision is thorough and includes the reflections of all members of the panel.

The delay added to the anxiety of the alleged Haneys victims and their families, said Judie Saunders, family lawyer for several gymnasts.

My clients, especially young girls, are frustrated and ready for a shutdown, said Saunders. I know there are delays. But the fact of not knowing, of not having information is at the origin of their anxiety.

Haney was suspended by USA Gymnastics on February 3, the first day of auditions in which 2016 Olympic gold medalist Laurie Hernandez testified against longtime coach and 2018 world champion Riley McCusker wrote a letter criticizing Haney at the hearing panel.

The prince said Haney was also frustrated with the delay.

Miss Haney is upset, he said. She is upset to experience this for a year. ”

Prince added: “I think the panel is trying to do a 100% thoughtful and thorough job.”

Haney, 42, considered one of the best technical trainers in the world, has become known worldwide for coaching Hernandez and McCusker at MG Elite Gymnastics in the suburb of Monmouth Junction, N.J., 72 kilometers from New York. But Hernandez and McCusker have joined at least half a dozen families to file a complaint against Haney with USA Gymnastics.

Haney allegedly screamed, swore, threatened, intimidated and harassed gymnasts regularly, according to USA Gymnastics documents and interviews with six people familiar with the national bodys investigation. Haney also reportedly told injured gymnasts to remove casings of boots and other protective devices to continue training and competing, according to documents and interviews with USA Gymnastics.

Haney fans, including several NCAA Division 1 gymnasts and former coaches from the United States national team, defended the coach. They argue that Haney is harsh and sometimes abrasive, but not abusive.

USA Gymnastics placed Haney on provisional suspension pending the outcome of the hearing during the first hour of the February 3 hearing, according to three people familiar with the hearing. Under the measure, Haney was banned from suspending contact with minors, according to USA Gymnastics.

But USA Gymnastics’ handling of the Haney case has fueled new criticism following the Nassar and Peters sexual abuse scandals that the organization, motivated by Olympic and international success and corporate sponsorship, is more concerned with protecting the reputation of high performance coaches, officials and the organization than young athletes.

Hernandez reported complaints against Haney to Rhonda Faehn, then senior vice-president of United States Gymnastics for the women’s program, shortly after the 2016 Olympics. The verbal and emotional abuse of Haney and other MG Elite coaches have continued, according to documents obtained by SCNG and interviews. At least a dozen gymnasts reported being verbally and / or emotionally assaulted by Haney after Hernandez complained to USA Gymnastics in 2016.

Haney has been under investigation by USA Gymnastics since at least August, according to four people familiar with the investigation, following several allegations.

According to the parents of MG Elite, the gymnasts, some as young as 10 years old, were scolded when they made a mistake in practice or had trouble learning a new skill. The parents also said they saw Haney being ashamed of rude young girls. Other times, gymnasts were kicked out of training when they disappointed Haney, the parents said. Injured gymnasts unable to train or compete have been humiliated and intimidated by Haney, according to documents and parents.

Some gymnasts have reportedly been so worried about being yelled at, intimidated or humiliated in front of other girls that they have suffered from anxiety attacks.

Haney did not respond to several requests for comment from SCNG. Prince, his lawyer, said the allegations were clearly false.

MG Elite coach and co-owner Victoria Levine was also temporarily suspended by USA Gymnastics last month and banned from having unsupervised contact with underage athletes while the organization investigates allegations of verbal and emotional abuse against her .

The Levine inquiry was prompted by allegations made by parents of MG Elite gymnasts, as well as by testimony from USA Gymnastics’ ongoing hearing on verbal and emotional abuse against Haney. Levine did not respond to a request for comment.

According to the United States Center for SafeSport code, it is a “violation for a participant to engage in emotional and / or physical misconduct, when the misconduct occurs in a context reasonably related to sport, which includes, but is not limited to: 1. Emotional Misconduct, 2. Physical Misconduct, 3. Bullying Behaviors, 4. Hazing, 5. Harassment. ”

According to the code, emotional abuse includes “(a) verbal acts, (b) physical acts, (c) acts that refuse attention or support, (d) criminal conduct and / or (e) bullying. Emotional misconduct is determined by objective behaviors, ”

Verbal acts are defined as “repeated and excessive verbal assaults or assaults against a person in a manner that is not used for any productive training or for motivational purposes”.

Hernandez won a gold medal in the team competition at the 2016 Olympics and added a silver medal to the balance beam. But the relationship between Hernandez, his family and Haney broke down in the weeks immediately following the Rio de Janeiro Games. Hernandez took more than a year off from the sport, appearing in Dancing With the Stars.

She returned to gymnastics in 2018 and trains at Gym-Max in Costa Mesa. Hernandez has attended at least two US national team training camps in the past few months, where Haney has been present. She was invited but refused to participate in a national team selection camp in February after the hearing began in Haney.

McCusker won a gold medal with the American team in the team competition at the 2018 World Championships and is considered to be a candidate for several medals at the next Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

The relationship between McCuskers and Haney began to unravel at the FIG Individual World Cup March 23, 2019 in Birmingham, England.

Haney berated McCusker for poor performance in the safe, according to two people familiar with the investigation. McCusker finished second behind Russians Aliya Mustafina, despite being ahead of Mustafina in three of the four events. But the McCuskers’ jump score of 13,133 was 1,233 lower than that of the Russians and made the difference in the final standings.

McCusker, however, continued to train with Haney. She missed the World Championships last fall due to a muscle disease often linked to overtraining.

McCusker recovered and resumed training with Haney but left MG Elite shortly after Haneys’ temporary suspension. She is currently training at Arizona Sunrays in Phoenix, where she is coached by Brian Carey, father of several World Championship medalists, Jade Carey.

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