Published: Sun, April 22, 2018
Medical | By Mark Scott

U.S. gymnasts say sport rife with verbal, emotional abuse

U.S. gymnasts say sport rife with verbal, emotional abuse

Martha Karolyi led the national team for 15 years before retiring after the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Attorneys Mo Aziz of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz, Texas attorney Michelle Simpson Tuegel, and MI attorney James White, all filed lawsuits on Wednesday, April 18, 2018 alleging that women ranging from age 14 to age 41 were sexually molested by Larry Nassar.

Some of the gymnasts have claimed Nassar abused them at the Karolyi Ranch, the secluded gymnastic center about 60 miles north of Houston, where elite members of the women's national gymnastics team trained for decades.

Bela Karolyi said USA Gymnastics set and enforced all policies at the ranch during those periods.

Former Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney is among those who said they were abused by Nassar at the ranch, which is near Houston.

The Karolyis spoke as part of a Dateline NBC special entitled “Silent No More” scheduled to air Sunday. She told NBC's Savannah Guthrie that in "no way" did she suspect Nassar was sexually abusing athletes.

Penny, the former USA Gymnastics chief, said in a statement that Marta Karolyi was mistaken about the timing of his call.

Asked how she feels about claims by some of gymnastics' biggest stars say they were violated on the Karolyi Ranch, Martha Karolyi told Guthrie: "That's bad".

The lawsuit also alleges that USA Gymnastics breached its duty to reveal the abuse to the victims' families, as well as the U.S. Olympic Committee, Michigan State University, and law enforcement agencies. But other coaches and former gymnasts say the Karolyis' early successes - starting with Romania's Nadia Comaneci becoming the first female gymnast awarded a flawless score in competition - validated the cutthroat attitudes that fostered widespread mistreatment of American athletes at the highest levels of women's gymnastics.

"They answered every question", Guthrie told The Associated Press. The gymnast's lawyer says USA Gymnastics admits no wrongdoing or liability in the settlement.

While it's still unclear whether the Karolyis knew of Nassar's abuse, dozens of athletes allege other forms of abuse took place at the ranch including verbal and emotional abuse, and limiting food intake of athletes during arduous training sessions.

“I heard during the testimonies (at Nassars sentencing) that some of the parents were in the therapy room with their own child and Larry Nassar was performing this, ” Martha Karolyi told Guthrie.

When asked if she'd been aware of any sexual misconduct by Nassar prior to that point, Martha said, "Absolutely not". “And the parent couldnt see. In their first public statement about the scandal, they told NBC they were unaware of the abusive behavior Nassar.

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