News of 1984 Olympic Gymnastics coach Don Peters banned for life by USA gymnastics following sexual abuse allegations once again is rocking the sports world on the heels of the highly publicized sexual abuse scandal at Penn State.
Don Peters was the head coach of the 1984 U.S. women’s Olympic team, where the team won eight Olympic medals during the course of the competition. I was lucky enough to attend one of those events and am appalled by yet another coach who allegedly has been sexually abusive towards an athlete.
The Orange County Register reports that three former gymnasts have accused the former Olympic coach of sexually abusing them in the 80’s. Doe Yamashiro is one of the women who has come forward with the allegations. She was a member of the U.S. national team and trained with Peters at his SCATS club in Huntington Beach. She alleges that the abuse started when she was 16 years old, that he would fondle her repeatedly, and then had sex with her when she was 17. Yamashiro described the first incident:
“He asked to speak with me in his hotel room and he locked the door behind us. And then he began groping me. And that was the worst; that was really the worst of it because I had never been kissed by a boy, and I wasn’t even interested in boys at that point. I didn’t have breasts. I was totally pre-pubescent at 16. And, you know, if you spend your life in the gym, you’re totally emotionally naive.”
In 1987, Yamashiro moved into the ‘SCATS house’, which was a home rented by the club for the gymnasts who left home to train with Peters. During that summer, Yamashiro alleges that he had intercourse with her at the Huntington Beach library parking lot. She was only 17. She said:
“And I still couldn’t say ‘no’ to him. That incident I had a very strong emotional reaction to. That was a real physical violation and I was disgusted. I was disgusted at him and myself. And that’s it. I was in pain and I had just lost my virginity. And then I had to go to workout.”
The two other women who have come forward have similar tales, but their names have not been disclosed by the OC Register. One of the women recalled sexual intercourse with Peters when she was 18 years old. In California, the age of consent is 18. The alleged encounter with Yamashiro when she was 17 years old would constitute rape, but the statute of limitations has passed.
In addition to Peters being banned for life by USA Gymnastics, he has been removed from the Hall of Fame.