HOUSTON — Two minor female athletes who have described sexual abuse and inapproriate conduct at the hands of gymnastics coach Michael Spiller have come forward to pursue legal action, and more are expected to follow.
The victims have hired attorney Michelle Simpson Tuegel, known for her work on behalf of USA Gymnastics survivors of team doctor Larry Nassar, to hold the adults who failed to protect them accountable.
"These athletes and their families will fully cooperate with law enforcement, and hope to see the abuser and all of the adults and entities who failed to protect children held accountable, from top to bottom," Simpson Tuegel said. "They support the other victims, stand with them, and encourage others who have experienced the same to come forward and report it. Even if it was a long time ago, your experience matters and provides context and information regarding exactly what others in the sport knew about this coach and failed to take action on."
The attorney obtained an email that Boerne Gymnastics Center sent to its members on November 30, notifying them of the sexual abuse allegations. In the email, the center's owner says she filed a report about Spiller with SafeSport last April.
"But if that's true," Simpson Tuegel asked, "why wasn't this email sent to every member of the gym back in April as well? To me, this is just the most recent indication of a troubling lack of transparency that may have put children at continuing risk."
More victims are expected to come forward due to Spiller's decades as a gymnastics coach who was regularly left unsupervised with minor female athletes, Simpson Tuegel said.
"Has this sport learned nothing from the past? These gyms and this sport should be doing everything possible to prevent abuse and prevent adults from even being alone with athletes in their clubs. But sadly, we've seen young athletes endure sexual abuse again and again, in headline after headline, because irresponsible organizations allow it to happen."
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