Resolution aimed at abusive coaching advances to the House

Feb 1, 2024, 8:42 AM | Updated: 9:19 am

Kara Eaker posted on Instagram today that she will retire from Utah Gymnastics after enduring two y...

FILE: The gym in the Dumke Gymnastics Center is pictured during a ribbon-cutting event at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Aug. 17, 2023. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

(Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah lawmakers unanimously backed a resolution aimed at abusive coaching. The vote came after hearing emotional testimony from multiple survivors.

One survivor, Kara Eaker, retired from the University of Utah’s Red Rocks gymnastics team last year after claiming she was emotionally and verbally abused by a coach.

“We can’t go to the police or ask for help because this isn’t someone slapping us across the face. This isn’t sexual abuse. Someone’s just going to look at us and tell us,  ‘Oh, you just need to toughen up. You just need to do better. You’re just too sensitive. You’re too emotionally weak,'” said Eaker.

Shannon Miller-Cox , founder of Journey of Hope, said she was called in as an advocate for members of the University of Utah Red Rocks gymnastics team after several claimed their coach was emotionally and verbally abusive. She added that people told her to “be careful” when trying to get them help.

“I’m trying to protect these girls from taking their lives, and you’re worried about me getting help for them?” said Miller-Cox. 

The sponsor, Sahara Hayes, D-Millcreek, said she was shocked when she first heard of the allegations of abuse that came out regarding the Red Rocks gymnastics program at the University of Utah. 

“There’s some pretty serious allegations,” said Hayes. “And then later on in the fall two gymnasts who are here today actually spoke out in detail about their experiences, one had already left the program. One was retiring from the sport because of the level of abuse that she had experienced, including leading to suicidal ideation and depression. So that was that was the impetus for this bill,” said Hayes. 

The coach in that case was cleared following an outside investigation. The resolution now heads to the full House.

Related: Utah Gymnastics coach Tom Farden placed on administrative leave

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, call 988 to connect with the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.

Crisis hotlines

Huntsman Mental Health Institute Crisis Line: 801-587-3000
SafeUT Crisis Line: 833-372-3388
988 Suicide and Crisis LifeLine at 988
Trevor Project Hotline for LGBTQ teens: 1-866-488-7386

Online resources

NAMI Utah: namiut.org
Suicide Prevention Lifeline: www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Utah chapter: afsp.org/chapter/utah



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Resolution aimed at abusive coaching advances to the House