Gymnast Says Group Gave Perv Coach a Pass
SPRINGFIELD, Ga. (CN) - A girl claims in court that her gymnastics coach videotaped her as she undressed, shared the child pornography with other people, and that USA Gymnastics knew about his sexual misconduct for eight years but failed to do anything about it.
Jane Doe sued USA Gymnastics, Savannah Metro, and her former Coach William McCabe, in Effingham County State Court. She claims that McCabe became her coach in 2005, when she was 8 years old, and that USA Gymnastics knew about his sexual misconduct as early as 1998.
Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics is the national governing body for gymnastics, with more than 110,000 athlete and professional members.
McCabe owned and operated Savannah Metro, a gymnastics club in Rincon, Ga., and was a registered coach "in good standing" with USA Gymnastics, according to the complaint.
McCabe was arrested in 2006 and charged with sexual exploitation of children: sending an 11-year-old girl sexually suggestive Internet messages and photos, according to the Savannah Morning News.
It is not clear from the news reports if the alleged victim was Doe.
McCabe is serving time in federal prison in Fort Dix, N.J., according to the complaint.
Doe claims McCabe sexually exploited her while coaching her in late 2005, and that USA Gymnastics knew of his propensities before he was arrested in 2006, but failed to sanction him or warn parents.
"USA Gymnastics became aware of sexual misconduct by McCabe as early as 1998 and failed to investigate or take any action against McCabe and continued to allow him to participate in sanctioned events and incorporate Savannah Metro as a member club," the complaint states. "McCabe was listed as a coach in 'good standing' until his arrest in 2006, allowing him to gain access to plaintiff and other unknown victims.
"Plaintiff began training at Savannah Metro when plaintiff was approximately 8 years old.
"Defendant McCabe became plaintiff's gymnastics coach and held this position of trust and confidence until his arrest in 2006.
"From about October 2005 until December 2005, defendant McCabe contacted plaintiff through email and instant messages. Many of these communications were sexual in nature, including defendant's request to plaintiff to massage herself in her private areas. Defendant also forwarded to plaintiff photographs of a female's nude breast and vagina.
"While plaintiff was at Savannah Metro, defendant McCabe surreptitiously videotaped plaintiff in various states of undress, including the videotaping of plaintiff's genitals and pubic area. Defendant imported these videos to his computer and saved them in files on his computer making plaintiff the object of child pornography.
"Defendant knowingly and intentionally forwarded from his computer to other persons copies of videos and photographs of the plaintiff as the object of child pornography to other persons for their consumption.
"Defendant McCabe's criminal, inappropriate sexual conduct towards plaintiff including, but not limited to sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, and sexual abuse culminating in inappropriate sexual conduct occurred during the coach/athlete relationship and occurred during practice, meets, exhibitions, and other competitions supervised and/or sanctioned by Savannah Metro and USA Gymnastics."
Doe seeks compensatory and punitive damages for assault, battery, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, negligence, failure to warn, negligent misrepresentation, and invasion of privacy.
She is represented by Brian Cornwell with the Lasky Law Group of Savannah.