More than five dozen gymnasts who were on the senior national team from 2005 to 2012 were contacted in the national paper’s investigation of the Karolyi ranch that spawned Olympic team and individual champions.
Many pushed back against the notion that the Karolyis, now retired from U.S. team duties, were abusive at their camp outside Houston.
“This is elite gymnastics,” said former national-team member Samantha Sheehan. “It’s not supposed to be lovey dovey all the time.”
Another former camp athlete, Amber Trani, was quoted as saying: “I’ve never seen a coach lay a hand on a girl, period, at the Karolyi ranch.”
But a slew of lawsuits and criminal probes suspect Larry Nassar, now in a Michigan jail, of continuing a pattern of molesting young girls when he worked at the Karolyi ranch.
“What Nassar did during his tenure as the national gymnastics team physician from 1996 to 2015 and in a 20-year stint at Michigan State University continues to come to light,” USA Today said in its 2,200-word report posted Thursday. “He was charged in November with three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a person younger than 13 by the Michigan attorney general.
“Those charges stem from his time at Michigan State, which also is being sued by at least 40 women or girls. Nassar also was indicted in December on two federal charges related to child pornography. A third charge was added this month when officials said Nassar attempted to destroy some of the 37,000 images and videos found by the FBI.”
Attorney Gary Jewell told USA Today that the Karolyis “vehemently deny the allegations.” They also declined interview requests.
A former national team gymnast — whose name is shielded as Jane LM Doe — alleges in an October lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court that the Karolyis intimidated gymnasts by hitting and scratching them.
The Karolyis “created a toxic environment where the perpetrator (Nassar) was given opportunity to perpetrate and continue his systematic sexual abuse of minor children,” the suit alleges.
“As a youngster, the plaintiff began her gymnastics career at a young age and competed, trained and conditioned as a gymnast many years prior to the star of her sexual abuse at the hands of Nassar,” said City News Service in an October 2016 report.
Ranch of legendary U.S. Gymnastics coaches Bela and Martha Karolyi brought into spotlight after abuse lawsuits filedhttps://t.co/tSpSs2CqsD
— Sports Law Scoop (@SportsLawScoop) February 17, 2017
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