Investigations and U.S. Sports in the News


By Abigail Garber

In April, two major pieces of investigations news emerged in the world of US sports. On April 29, 2024, the independent investigation report authored by Sherman & Sterling was published after U.S. Rowing retained the firm to investigation claims of sexual abuse against the celebrated Olympic medalist and rowing coach, Ted Nash. The investigation involved a difficult set of facts allegedly occurring nearly 50 years ago and which had not been reported by the complainant, who was 13 years old compared to Nash’s 40 years of age at the time of the alleged abuse, for decades. In addition to challenges inherent to late investigations, like fading witness memories, Nash died in 2021, and there were no eyewitnesses to the abuse. Still, Sherman & Sterling attempted to contact 92 people with potential knowledge of the parties and the circumstances surrounding the abuse, successfully interviewing 47 of them. Although the 154-page report does not apply any specific standard of evidentiary proof (presumably because all cognizable statutes of limitations had long passed), nor does it include analysis of the evidence, it thoroughly recites the evidence gathered by investigators over a 17-month period. As a result of Sherman & Sterling’s finding that the complainant was credible and many of her claims were corroborated, U.S. Rowing rescinded honors it had awarded Nash in 2005 and 2013.

The other piece of investigations news comes from U.S.A. Gymnastics in relation to the sexual abuse perpetrated by Dr. Larry Nassar against hundreds of girls and young women over the course of many years. On April 23, 2024, the United States Department of Justice announced a $138.7 million settlement with victims of Nassar who alleged they were abused because the FBI failed to investigate reports of Nassar’s abuse. In 2015, athletes reported sexual abuse by Nassar to the FBI’s Indianapolis field office, yet agents failed to initiate an investigation, leaving Nassar free to continue the abuse against new victims. The D.O.J. settlement is in addition to Michigan State University’s 2018 settlement with Nassar’s abuse victims in the amount of $500 million, as well as the U.S.A. Gymnastics and the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee’s 2021 settlement in the amount of $380 million. Prompt, thorough, and impartial investigations upon receipt of the first allegations of abuse might well have avoided nearly $1 billion in settlement payments as well as immeasurable pain and suffering on the part of Nassar’s victims.