A prominent USA Badminton board member has recommended that the national governing body sack its chief executive Linda French, according to a letter obtained by the Southern California News Group.
The letter from board member Nancy Hogshead-Makar, Olympic swimming champion, comes amid congressional inquiries into whether the French and other U.S. badminton players have dealt with allegations of sexual abuse of a former US national team coach and another case of sexual abuse involving a young player under US Center for SafeSport guidelines.
Hogshead-Makar’s recommendation also comes a month after Alistair Casey, a USA Badminton employee who alerted the US Center for SafeSport to French and the NGB’s handling of the two cases of sexual abuse, was fired.
“I think Linda should be fired because, under all the circumstances, I no longer trust her actions to be in the best interests of the sport,” wrote Hogshead-Makar, who has been appointed to the board of administration of USA Badminton in June 2020. “On the contrary, she is interested in defending herself at the expense of the sport. She is definitely not acting with any plan, a plan that probably should have been modified during the pandemic to focus on issues that she is dealing with. “normal times” do not allow. ”
On November 4, the United States’ Center for SafeSport imposed temporary restrictions on the duties of French people regarding cases of sexual abuse, according to SafeSport documents obtained by SCNG.
French did not respond to a request for comment.
Hogshead-Makar declined to discuss the details of the letter, citing privacy concerns.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), a prominent member of the Senate Judiciary Committee in an October 1 letter, warned USA Badminton of “potential criminal violations amid allegations it sought to cover up allegations of child sexual abuse and obstructs an investigation by the United States. Center for SafeSport ”in the two cases of sexual abuse.
According to Grassley, USA Badminton “discouraged reporting of sexual misconduct, encouraged destruction or withholding of evidence, challenged their obligations under the law, and refused to cooperate with SafeSport.”
Grassley said he alerted the FBI to the allegations.
“As the Nassar case illustrates, inaction can result in many more victims being injured, which would be intolerable,” Grassley wrote, referring to the Larry Nassar case in which USA Gymnastics officials are accused of covering up allegations of sexual abuse against the former United States. Doctor of the Olympic and American national team, allowing Nassar to sexually assault dozens, if not more than 100 new victims.
A day later, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) and Senator Roger F. Wicker (R-Mississippi), chairman and senior member of the Senate Communications, Science and Transportation Committee, wrote to USA Badminton that he had received allegations from the USA Center for SafeSport “detailing possible interference by senior USA Badminton officials, including allegations that on several occasions senior USA Badminton officials discouraged staff from reporting to SafeSport possible sexual abuse of a minor “.
Hogshead-Makar, in her December 1 letter to the rest of the USA Badminton board of directors, said she had received a letter from the House Energy and Commerce committee that stated “he recently has come to our attention that USA Badminton officials may have failed to report allegations of child sexual abuse, has discouraged others from reporting such allegations, and may hamper an investigation of these allegations by the United States Center for sports safety. If this is true, it is unacceptable, deeply disturbing and a violation of federal law. ”
Jon Little, a USA Badminton lawyer and prominent survivor advocate who has clashed frequently with the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee and the NGBs over their handling of sexual abuse cases, told the House committee that “ the false allegations of non-reporting in the United States Badminton is currently the subject of an “investigation” by the Center for Safe Sport in the United States and over the past month USA Badminton produced over 1,000 pages records, including several privilege logs for the USA Center for Safe Sport and the Senate Commerce Committee; we are happy to produce the documents for your committee.
Little was informed by the US Center for SafeSport on October 13 that he was under investigation by the center.
The allegations, according to a letter from the US Center for SafeSport, stated that Little “had been made aware of allegations of sexual misconduct and failed to report these allegations in a timely manner to the appropriate authorities; discouraged from reporting sexual misconduct; encouraged the concealment and destruction of evidence on the matter; questioned the need to follow federal reporting requirements; refused to cooperate with the Centre’s investigation; and retaliated against a USA Badminton employee for reporting sexual misconduct to the Center. It has further been alleged that you have engaged in an abuse of process by inappropriately disclosing the identity of applicants in communications with both the USOPC and the United States Congress. ”
“The allegations are absolutely false,” Little said.
Little in an Oct. 13 letter to Senate advisers wrote: “The Safe Sport complaint against me is part of a long campaign by Safe Sport and its predecessors to silence voices in sport that protect athletes in sport. and I will defend myself publicly. ”
US Center for Sports Safety and Congressional Investigations focus on whether USA Badminton discouraged reporting and failed to timely report allegations that a former US national team coach raped a young foreign player training in Southern California and another rape of a young woman. by another member of USA Badminton, according to documents from the US Center for SafeSport and USA Badminton. In the second case, the female became pregnant and had an abortion, according to two people familiar with the matter.
The allegations in both cases had been known to USA Badminton, including some board members, for years, according to USA Badminton, the US Center for Sports Safety and Congressional documents.
In their October 2 letter to French, Cantwell and Wicker wrote to the US Center for SafeSport that allegations of interference against USA Badminton “were made in connection with SafeSport’s investigation into” allegations of sexual abuse of children [by a USA Badminton coach] who were apparently known to an NGB official as early as 2014. ‘ ”
“This behavior is exactly the kind of retaliatory abuse that Safe Sport routinely uses to protect coaches who produce medals and money – in this case (the coach of the US national team),” Little wrote. in the letter of October 13 to the advisers of the Senate. “Safe Sport wants to perpetuate the narrative that Badminton did not report (the coach of the US national team) when in reality (the coach) was the subject of a complaint filed by the former mediator of athletes in 2009, then again by USA Badminton in June. / July 2020. Badminton rightly assumed that any further complaints would be dismissed out of hand and without any sort of investigation by Safe Sport. This was the case with the August 2020 complaint as it was resolved in less than three weeks. ”
In an October 5th email to French, Hogshead-Makar and USA Badminton President Ken Wong, Little wrote: will be expensive because he’s likely to fight, but I think this guy is going to be a problem in the future, if he injures a child in the future, we will get the pants to sue us civilly – but other than that, taking them off is the right thing to do. ”
Both cases were reported to USA Badminton on Aug. 12, Little said.
Officials at the US Center for SafeSport were unable to locate the alleged victim in the first case which was closed on September 1, Little said. The second case was closed on Aug. 28, Little said. The center did not issue any sanctions in either case, Little said.
“Linda did not understand the rules of SafeSport and made the mistake of thinking that she did not need to report certain incidents of sexual abuse to the US Center for SafeSport,” Hogshead-Makar wrote in the letter. . “After texting and chatting with her, she reported them and both reports were administratively closed. … But rather than cleaning up the mess caused by her mistake, she got on the defensive and became unable to speak with Alistair, her only employee.
“Linda filed a SafeSport issue / complaint in a federal case by failing to say what was true: that she didn’t think she should report when she heard about a coach assaulting a badminton player. She eventually reported, and SafeSport administratively closed those reports. In my mind, it was a good faith mistake that was not remedied quickly.
In an interview with SCNG, Hogshead-Makar said, “I feel like a mistake has been made and I feel like we’ve cleaned it up.
“It was by no means like gymnastics (USA) where they knew (Nassar) and they didn’t do anything about it.”
Hogshead-Makar in the letter also alleges that “the 2022 budget was used to fire Alistair Casey from his job. In my opinion, this “emergency meeting” (on the budget) was created in order to give Linda a “cover” to fire Alistair. I have the impression that she was not candid with us about her intentions of our meeting, or why she was firing Alistair.
Casey said he was fired because he was reporting to the US Center for SafeSport.
“Absolutely,” he said. “If I hadn’t reported to SafeSport, I would still be working there. ”