U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee officials violated federal law by waiting five days to report the sexual assault of a 15-year-old athlete to police in 2018, according to a whistleblower's lawsuit.
The USOPC knew it was illegal to not immediately report suspicions of sexual abuse because its officials had testified in Congressional hearings that led to the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act, which was enacted in February 2018. Also, USA Gymnastics' decision to wait five weeks before reporting Larry Nassar to the FBI was a focus of both the Congressional hearings and public outcry.
The damning revelation was made in a whistleblower lawsuit filed Wednesday by Bill Moreau, the USOPC's former vice president of sports medicine. In the lawsuit, which was obtained by USA TODAY Sports, Moreau said he was fired after he questioned top executives for how they managed reports of sexual abuse and treated mental health issues.
"He wanted to fix that," Darold Killmer, Moreau's attorney, told USA TODAY Sports. "They punished him for it by terminating him."
Moreau was traveling Thursday and could not immediately be reached for comment by USA TODAY Sports.
Moreau was fired in May of 2019 and was told it was because he didn't have a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree, according to the lawsuit. Moreau holds his Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree. But his replacement was another chiropractor.
"Frankly, what I'm really worried about is, what if another kid gets raped and I didn't say something? What if another athlete kills himself and I didn't say something? Somebody has got to get the USOPC's attention to start listening and not breaking the law," Moreau told ESPN.
Luella Chavez D'Angelo, the USOPC's chief marketing and communications officer, told The Denver Post that Moreau and his legal team have "misrepresented the causes of his separation from the USOPC.
"We will honor their decision to see this matter through in the courts," D'Angelo said in a statement.
The USOPC, along with USA Gymnastics and several other national governing bodies, have been the subject of investigations by both the U.S. House and Senate, the Department of Justice and the independent law firm of Ropes and Gray in the aftermath of the Nassar scandal. More than 350 girls and young women, including Olympic champions Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas and McKayla Maroney, have said Nassar sexually abused them, often under the guise of medical treatment.
Nassar is serving an effective life sentence, having pleaded guilty to federal and state charges.
Ropes and Gray and two Congressional investigations detailed structural failures at the USOC and NGBs that left athletes at risk, and found the governing bodies were often slow to take action despite broad knowledge of abuse complaints.
Moreau's lawsuit makes a similar case.
In the case of the 15-year-old, Moreau alleges that the USOPC's "upper level management" was alerted on April 26, 2018, that the Paralympic track athlete had been sexually assaulted by a 20-year-old athlete while they were at the Drake Relays. A track coach employed by the USOPC told Moreau the 15-year-old was having suicidal thoughts.
But instead of reporting to police, as both Iowa and federal law required, Moreau claims that Rick Adams, the USOPC's chief of sport performance, began conducting an internal investigation.
The USOPC filed a complaint with the U.S. Center for SafeSport on April 30, but did not classify what had happened as a "reportable offense." Moreau said in his lawsuit that he told Adams and two other USOPC officials that, under Iowa law, a 15-year-old cannot legally give consent to sexual activity with a person who is four or more years older.
On May 1, five days after learning about the assault, the USOPC reported it to the police in West Des Moines, Iowa.
Moreau also alleged that USOPC officials didn't treat mental health issues the same way it treated other medical issues, illustrated by the suicide of Olympic silver medal cyclist Kelly Catlin.
According to Moreau's lawsuit, he warned USOPC executives that "urgent action" was needed after Catlin attempted suicide in February 2019 and "disengaged" from follow-up psychiatric care. But rather than referring her to a psychiatrist trained to treat suicidal patients, Moreau claims that the USOPC decided to treat Catlin "by committee."
"Moreau explained to USOC Chief of High Performance Rick Adams that ... the USOC concept of managing a mental health medical emergency 'by committee' was woefully deficient and in fact a dangerous pathway to follow," according to the lawsuit.
Moreau said he raised the issue a second time, telling Adams on March 7, 2019, that, "If we do not make changes quickly, in the next day, next week, next month or next year an athlete we are responsible for will again take their own life.”
Catlin committed suicide the next day.
Moreau also alleged in his lawsuit that members of Adams' high-performance staff accessed medical records that they did not have authority to view.
Federal law establishes standards for the confidentiality of medical records and sets limits on what can be shared without patient authorization. But Moreau alleges that some of Adams' staff were "perusing" athlete medical records, and provided an audit that showed more than 300 "intrusions" by "USOC-employed non-healthcare providers."