Azarian gymnastics coach’s hearing delayed due to volume of complaints – Press Enterprise

More than four months after physical, verbal and emotional abuse complaints were filed against Orange County gymnastics coach Vanessa Gonzalez and two months after a hearing was first scheduled, the volume of evidence against Gonzalez is so great that USA Gymnastics continues to be unable to hold a disciplinary hearing, according to USA Gymnastics emails.

At least 30 gymnasts or parents have alleged Gonzalez physically, verbally or emotionally abused and bullied young female gymnasts at Azarian U.S. Gymnastics Training Center in Aliso Viejo, according to USA Gymnastics documents and four people familiar with the investigation.

“We do not currently have either an interim measure hearing or a final hearing calendared. We will notify you if either becomes imminent,” USA Gymnastics general counsel Mark Busby wrote in an Oct. 28 email to a parent in the case. “A resolution panel requires a minimum 15 day push per the current bylaws, and with the volume of evidence in this matter, I would anticipate we would have significant notice in advance of that 15 day push.

“We continue to investigate the matter and are still conducting interviews.”

A three-month Orange County Register investigation – based on complaints, interviews, Azarian and previously undisclosed confidential USA Gymnastics documents, medical records and therapists’ reports – showed gymnasts, parents and certain Azarian coaches allege that some Azarian coaches regularly physically, emotionally or verbally abused, bullied and belittled, and pressured young female gymnasts to continue training and/or competing while injured.

USA Gymnastics suspended Gonzalez and two other Azarian coaches, Amanda Hensley and Perry Davies, on an interim basis Sept. 4 pending the completion an investigation of the coaches. The coaches are prohibited from “all contact” with gymnasts under the terms of the suspension.

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USA Gymnastics has jurisdiction over emotional misconduct, bullying, hazing, physical misconduct and retaliation related to safe sport complaints involving affiliated members or gyms. The U.S. Center for SafeSport has jurisdiction over cases involving sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, grooming, and child abuse within Olympic sports in this country.

Gonzalez has declined multiple interview requests. In response to an email detailing specific allegations against her, Gonzalez wrote in an email: “Thank you for reaching out and your willingness to hear our side. As you must already know, we signed a non-disclosure earlier this week which prevents us from discussing any of the allegations or claimants. I am however, hopeful that there will be a time where we can sit down and I can respond to all your questions.”

USA Gymnastics officials have declined repeated requests for comment on the Azarian case, citing a policy against speaking on ongoing investigations.

A USA Gymnastics hearing panel has upheld Amanda Hensley’s interim suspension last month pending the completion of an investigation into allegations that she verbally and emotionally abused, bullied and pressured gymnasts she coached at Azarian and World Elite Gymnastics, based in Santa Margarita, to compete or train while injured.

Hensley remains banned from all contact with gymnasts, USA Gymnastics member clubs and events after a panel rejected her request to have the suspension lifted following a multiple-day hearing, according to two people involved in the hearing and multiple USA Gymnastics texts confirming the decision.

Hensley was hired by Azarian after she stepped down from a high-level coaching position at World Elite in 2017 following complaints from at least 10 parents that she mistreated young gymnasts, according to documents obtained by the Register and interviews.

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A September hearing on the Gonzalez case was postponed to October only to be postponed again because of the volume of complaints against her and Hensley’s hearing last longer than expected.