A Georgia judge ruled on Monday that sexual abuse complaint files compiled by USA Gymnastics should be released to the public, offering a look into the Olympic organization’s policies for handling child abuse, reports the Indianapolis Star. The ruling, by Judge Ronald K. Thompson in Effingham County State Court, was celebrated as a victory by some former gymnasts who were victims of sex abuse. USA Gymnastics, which opposed release of the documents, said it will appeal. Thompson’s ruling came in response to a motion filed by the Star, which reported earlier this month that USA Gymnastics executives have a policy of not forwarding sex abuse allegations to police unless they are signed by a victim or a victim’s guardian.
The Georgia ruling concerns a lawsuit by a former gymnast who accused USA Gymnastics of negligence for not reporting four allegations against a coach. The Star documented four instances in which USA Gymnastics was warned that coaches were a problem, but did not report the allegations to police. In all four instances, the coaches went on to abuse underage gymnasts. Thompson agreed to unseal 54 sex abuse complaint files and 12 depositions taken in the case. He said he will review them first as a “safety precaution” to ensure sensitive information isn’t released by mistake. Michael Athans, attorney for USA Gymnastics, argued during the hearing that reporters “are literally on a witch hunt.”