The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee must respond to tailored requests for information concerning sexual abuse claims sought by Simone Biles and dozens of other gymnasts, a bankruptcy judge ruled.
Judge Robyn L. Moberly issued her order Tuesday to address a simmering dispute at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Indiana, where USA Gymnastics has been in Chapter 11 proceedings since 2018 to deal with the fallout of litigation stemming from sexual abuse committed by former team doctor Larry Nassar.
The USOPC, which has urged gymnasts abused by Nassar to consider a bankruptcy plan settlement that would release their claims against both USAG and the Olympic committee, sought a protective order limiting the extent of information that could be subpoenaed. It said the gymnasts failed to connect their document requests to the Chapter 11 case and were asking for information that was already produced in underlying litigation.
Biles, Alexandra Raisman, McKayla Maroney and some 150 additional gymnasts said the USOPC has steadfastly refused to address their questions about its connected liability while offering “nothing but empty promises and zero transparency.”
In a mixed ruling, Moberly said the abuse claimants had strayed a bit too far in their request for discovery from the USOPC, but could depose three current and former directors and officers, and seek information on a narrow range of topics addressing the committee’s response to sexual abuse claims.
In addition to questioning committee CFO Morane Kerek on the organizaton’s finances, the gymnasts may choose two witnesses from a list of seven other current and former USOPC personnel to depose, Moberly said, noting “there simply isn’t time to conduct all of the depositions requested, even if they were not redundant, burdensome and duplicative in some respects.”
USAG produced its bankruptcy plan earlier this year, giving victims the choice of settling their claims and splitting about $220 million of insurance proceeds or individually pursuing litigation and collection on their own.
The proposal has been met with objections by claimants and the Justice Department, arguing it fails to provide adequate information for creditors to make an informed choice.
The case is In re USA Gymnastics, Bankr. S.D. Ind., No. 18-09108, Order 6/16/20