NEW YORK (Reuters) - USA Gymnastics has hired a former attorney to review its procedures for handling sexual misconduct issues in the wake of media reports earlier this year that the organization turned a blind eye to allegations.

Deborah Daniels, whose legal career includes a focus on physical and sexual abuse of children, will provide a final recommendation to the USA Gymnastics board of directors, the governing body said in a statement on Thursday.

"Deborah's background makes her the right choice to lead this important effort because the well-being of our athletes is paramount," said president Steve Penny.

"We believe Deborah's review of our current practices against today's standards in this critical area, coupled with interviewing members of the gymnastics community and authorities in related areas, will generate recommendations on what needs refinement to further promote athlete safety."

As part of her independent probe, Daniels will consult with experts and organizations representing law enforcement, child welfare, state and local officials, and others.

In August, an Indianapolis Star report said USA Gymnastics officials failed to alert authorities over allegations of sexual abuse by coaches.

The organization did not address the specifics of the allegations at the time, saying only that it encouraged victims of abuse to report allegations to police.

"Nothing is more important than the safety of all athletes and young people," said Daniels.

"This evaluation is intended to review and strengthen the existing USA Gymnastics process, in addition to likely yielding important insights for other youth-serving organizations."

(Reporting by Frank Pingue; Editing by Tony Jimenez)