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pagymmom

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Jan 20, 2019
12
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I live about 30 minutes from Woodward so saw this in our local paper. I copied and pasted the article because they often use Paywalls.

Another female filed a lawsuit Friday against Woodward Camp, making her the second in the past year to accuse the elite gymnastics facility of improperly responding to allegations of sexual misconduct. The Canadian woman — who was only identified in the lawsuit by her initials — was a junior counselor when she attended the nationally renowned camp in summer 2016. She was 17. She was coached by Nathaniel Singer, who she accused of grooming her by sending unwanted photos of himself partially nude. He pursued an intimate relationship with her so openly, her attorneys wrote, that other campers and staff were aware of the inappropriate behavior. On the penultimate night of her stay at the camp, Singer pressured her into “inappropriate sexual contact,” the 20-page lawsuit alleged. “We are looking to hold Woodward accountable for placing these young women and the young campers in danger by ignoring the complaints and the dangers that Singer posed to the campers and to the children entrusted in their care,” attorney David K. Inscho said Tuesday. No attorney for Singer was listed. A spokeswoman for adventure lifestyle company Powdr — Woodward Camp’s parent company — wrote in a statement Tuesday that the business takes the allegations “very seriously” and is actively reviewing the claims. The camp rehired Singer each of the following three years even though he admitted to administrators that he had sexual contact with the woman, the suit alleged. At least one other camper said she was sexually assaulted by Singer during his following stints. That teenager’s parents sued the camp and Singer in December. Singer was accused of groping and digitally penetrated her during a drill, while the camp’s administrators were accused of trying to dissuade her from reporting the abuse. Top headlines in your inbox Get all the news you need to start your day. Singer was suspended by the U.S. Center for SafeSport — a center tasked with investigating sex-abuse claims in Olympic sports — for sexual misconduct in July 2020. He’s was ruled permanently ineligible in May to be a member of USA Gymnastics. The most recent lawsuit is seeking unspecified damages. Singer’s alleged sexual misconduct and the camp’s inaction, Inscho said, has had a “profound effect.” “(She) was taken advantage of by a male in a position of power and authority that the camp had given him,” Inscho said. “It’s caused her significant psychological harm.” Singer, of New England, was also charged criminally in April for his alleged sexual misconduct against the teenage gymnast who filed the first lawsuit. He’s charged with two felony counts of aggravated indecent assault, as well as two misdemeanor counts of indecent assault. Defense lawyer Lance Marshall said he does not represent Singer in either of the lawsuits. Singer remains free on $50,000 unsecured bail. No trial date has been set.

Read more at: https://www.centredaily.com/news/local/community/penns-valley/article265721891.html#storylink=cpy
 
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JPC13

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Mar 25, 2022
341
Awful to hear. Parents need to be a lot more involved in their kid’s gymnastics lives. There’s something about the dynamics of this sport, combined with the hands off nature of so many parents, that just creates a disaster ready to happen.
 

Madden3

Proud Parent
Aug 24, 2013
832
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Parents should be involved of course, but Woodward is a sleepaway camp, so parents are not going to be present and most likely never even meet the coaches.

Here is my opinion on this sickening story after studying cultures where abuse occurs, and having lived in one myself as a teen.

Here are some attributes of cultures where sexual abuse is likely to occur:

1) Abuser can access and manipulate children/teens (and their families)

2) The children/teens (and possibly their families) are vulnerable in some way that makes them feel in some sense beholden to the abuser and/or the authority the abuser represents or the entity that is served by covering up abuse.

3) Talk or behavior of a sexual nature is common and accepted and/or close physical contact is common and accepted

4) private meeting/discussions between individual adults and minors is possible.

5) Proper safeguarding is not followed.

In gymnastics training, obviously kids and teens are available. As in any competitive sport (but perhaps more intense in gymnastics than most) the athlete and their family may feel beholden to the coach, gym, camp, etc. for advancement in the sport, realization of dreams, or simply encouragement. Close physical contact (but hopefully not sexual talk and behavior) is commonplace, unknown in this case if there was opportunity for private meeting but sounds likely. And if what this article alleges is correct, proper safeguarding was not followed, as the abuser’s inappropriate behavior was observed by others and nothing was done.

Sexual abuse is often preventable. Too many adults choose to not prevent it. This failure is what we have to understand.
 

pagymmom

Proud Parent
Jan 20, 2019
12
37
Parents should be involved of course, but Woodward is a sleepaway camp, so parents are not going to be present and most likely never even meet the coaches.

Here is my opinion on this sickening story after studying cultures where abuse occurs, and having lived in one myself as a teen.

Here are some attributes of cultures where sexual abuse is likely to occur:

1) Abuser can access and manipulate children/teens (and their families)

2) The children/teens (and possibly their families) are vulnerable in some way that makes them feel in some sense beholden to the abuser and/or the authority the abuser represents or the entity that is served by covering up abuse.

3) Talk or behavior of a sexual nature is common and accepted and/or close physical contact is common and accepted

4) private meeting/discussions between individual adults and minors is possible.

5) Proper safeguarding is not followed.

In gymnastics training, obviously kids and teens are available. As in any competitive sport (but perhaps more intense in gymnastics than most) the athlete and their family may feel beholden to the coach, gym, camp, etc. for advancement in the sport, realization of dreams, or simply encouragement. Close physical contact (but hopefully not sexual talk and behavior) is commonplace, unknown in this case if there was opportunity for private meeting but sounds likely. And if what this article alleges is correct, proper safeguarding was not followed, as the abuser’s inappropriate behavior was observed by others and nothing was done.

Sexual abuse is often preventable. Too many adults choose to not prevent it. This failure is what we have to understand.
You make a ton of great points here. It is sad this continues to occur. The reputation locally about WoodWard is that they basically let kids do whatever they want for the majority of the day and that there is an unusual rate of injuries per local orthopedists.
 

gymgal

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Proud Parent
Aug 22, 2008
4,660
You make a ton of great points here. It is sad this continues to occur. The reputation locally about WoodWard is that they basically let kids do whatever they want for the majority of the day and that there is an unusual rate of injuries per local orthopedists.
The gymnastics side has surprisingly few injuries. The other parts of the camp (cheer, x-treme sports) are different stories. But yes, woodward gives a lot more freedom to their gymnasts to have a more "typical camp" experience compared to some of the other gym camps. They are only required to attend one gymnastics session a day but most do more than that.
 

bookworm

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Proud Parent
You make a ton of great points here. It is sad this continues to occur. The reputation locally about WoodWard is that they basically let kids do whatever they want for the majority of the day and that there is an unusual rate of injuries per local orthopedists.

As someone who worked many weeks of many summers at Woodward , and specifically in the infirmary, I feel a response is needed. The majority of the kids there can "do whatever they want" but most will be in the specific sport sessions during the day , especially the gymnasts.

I wouldn't say there was an "unusual rate of " orthopedic injuries for gymnasts but we did see a fair number in the skateboarders and BMX riders who rode in the bowls and flipped (no mats, no nets) but given that it is advertised for "extreme sports" I'd say the risk is inherently higher for injury in this setting.

And I can tell you the toughest cohort to "manage" at the camp was the staff... back then there were many instances of staff being "dropped " at the infirmary door (by another staff who would ring the bell and run) after a night out at the little town bar and the staff were too drunk to be safely alone (enter: infirmary staff up all night with many a staff member), there were sexual assaults, car crashes on the property by Senior staff members...and we were NEVER to call the police/authorities , it was all handled in house...so to hear the incident about Singer doesn't surprise me at all.
 

Aussie_coach

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Jan 4, 2008
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Wow! And parents drop their kids at camps for whole Summers!
 

JPC13

Proud Parent
Mar 25, 2022
341
Someone at my gym dropped their 7 year old off for a week at the other big sleep away gym.

What’s an increased chance of sexual abuse compared to the upside of possibly getting out of compulsories a year early?
 
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gymgal

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Aug 22, 2008
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Wow! And parents drop their kids at camps for whole Summers!
Most parents do not drop their kids off at gymnastics camps for whole summers. Most are there a week, some for 2 weeks. But yes, other "regular run of the mill" camps are for the entire summer. Still a very small minority of our whole child population though
 
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Aussie_coach

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Jan 4, 2008
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Most parents do not drop their kids off at gymnastics camps for whole summers. Most are there a week, some for 2 weeks. But yes, other "regular run of the mill" camps are for the entire summer. Still a very small minority of our whole child population though
It’s popular for young people in Australia (18-25 yr olds), to head to the US to be Camp Councillors for a US Summer, working holiday.

A few of my coaches have done it and they always end up at those camps where kids spend their entire Summer, kids as you as 7 too!

I find it amazing that parents can do that. Though I appreciate that childcare must be a challenge in the US when you have such a long Summer break from School and it’s not at Christmas time, so I’m assuming not that many parents can take Summer off too.

But I had not considered what a vulnerable position these kids would be in. As the selection process for camp councillors seems so simple, no way to tell what sort of influence they will have on these kids.

Having said that Australia has the highest percentage of students attending boarding schools in the western world. Sending kids away for 40 weeks a year, but to a much more regulated place.
 
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