Many in American and international gymnastics were surprised when former U.S. Olympic coach Don Peters in August denied under oath that he had sexual relations with underage female gymnasts while U.S. national team coach in the 1980s.
After all, Peters was hit with a lifetime ban from the sport by USA Gymnastics, the sport’s national governing body, in 2011 following an Orange County Register investigation in which three women said Peters had sex with teenage gymnasts. Peters did not contest the ban or show up at a USA Gymnastics disciplinary hearing on the case.
But Peters is now trying to change the answers he gave in a sworn August deposition raising questions about whether he perjured himself, according to documents obtained by the Southern California News Group.
Peters in September requested his denials of having sex with underage gymnasts be changed in the deposition transcript to assertions of his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself.
Peters’ original denials came in an often contentious Aug. 21 deposition in Irvine conducted as part of a former U.S. national team member’s civil suit in Los Angeles Superior Court against former U.S. national team physician Larry Nassar, USA Gymnastics, former USA Gymnastics presidents Robert Colarossi and Steve Penny, ex-U.S. national team directors Bela and Martha Karolyi and AOGC All Olympia, a Los Angeles area gym. The former gymnast alleges that she was repeatedly sexually abused by Nassar while a teenage member of the U.S. national team. The suit also alleges USA Gymnastics, the organization’s former executives and the Karolyis created a culture of abuse within American gymnastics that enabled Nassar’s sexual abuse.
Nassar last month pled guilty to multiple sexual abuse charges in two Michigan state court cases and is scheduled to be sentenced next week in U.S. District Court after pleading guilty to three federal child pornography charges earlier this year.
While stopping short of accusing Peters of perjury, John Manly, an Orange County attorney representing the former U.S. national team member, urged an investigation by Orange County law enforcement into Peters’ testimony and alleged sexual abuse.
“I would hope given the focus on these cases and (the level of sexual abuse) by many coaches if this came to law enforcement’s attention they would investigate it seriously,” Manly said referring to the sexual abuse cases involving Nassar and USA Gymnastics. “I’m not accusing…