USA Gymnastics Severs Ties To Karolyi Ranch Where Olympians Say They Were Abused
Editor's note: This report includes disturbing descriptions of abuse.
Amid a national sexual abuse scandal, USA Gymnastics severed its relationship on Thursday with Karolyi Ranch, the world-renowned training facility where some gymnasts say they were assaulted by the team's doctor.
"It will no longer serve as the USA Gymnastics National Team Training Center," USA Gymnastics president and CEO Kerry Perry said in a statement. She added that next week's training camp for the U.S. National Women's Team had been canceled.
"Our most important priority is our athletes, and their training environment must reflect this," Perry said.
Perry's announcement follows a statement by multi-gold medalist Simone Biles over social media in which she said she is one of several Olympic gymnasts abused by Larry Nassar, who was the team's doctor for nearly two decades. Former Olympic champions Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Gabby Douglas have also accused Nassar of molestation.
In the post, Biles said she was dreading returning to the training facility in Huntsville, Texas.
"It breaks my heart even more to think that as I work toward my dream of competing in Tokyo 2020, I will have to continually return to the same training facility where I was abused," Biles wrote on Monday.
More than 100 women are telling horrific stories of abuse, as part of a criminal sentencing hearing that started Tuesday and The Associated Press reports will likely end next week.
Nassar has pleaded guilty to seven first-degree sexual assault charges in Ingham County, Mich., but Judge Rosemarie Aquilina is allowing all of his accusers to speak if they want to before issuing Nassar's sentence. He has already been sentenced to 60 years in prison for child pornography in a federal case.
On Thursday, Michigan Assistant Attorney General Angela Povilaitis read a statement prepared by Maroney, who could not attend the hearing.
She described the doctor as "a monster of a human being."
"I had a dream to go to the Olympics and the things I had to endure to get there were unnecessary and disgusting," Maroney wrote, adding that the abuse started when she was 13 or 14 and ended only when she left the sport.
"He abused my trust. He abused my body and he left scars on my psyche that will never go away," she said.
Maroney also blamed USA Gymnastics, the U.S. Olympic Committee and Michigan State University for failing to stop Nassar. "A simple fact is this: If MSU, USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee had paid attention to any of the red flags in Larry Nassar's behavior, I would have never met him. I wouldn't have been abused by him," she wrote.
Jamie Dantzscher, a bronze medalist in the 2000 Olympics, delivered her impact statement in person on Thursday. MLive reports she was one of the first women to publicly accuse the doctor of sexually assaulting athletes, passing off the abuse as specialized medical treatment.
The video below contains audio of Dantzscher's full statement. Warning: The video contains explicit content.
She said Nassar massaged her genitals, lay on top of her, rubbing his penis against her and penetrated her with his fingers. The first assault happened when she was 12, she said. She described years of physical and psychological problems, stemming from the abuse, including bulimia and depression. Both led to hospitalization and one suicide attempt.
On Thursday Nassar, who has been sitting in the witness stand since Tuesday, submitted a six-page letter to the judge complaining that it was too hard for him to listen to his accusers while they described how he abused them. He claimed Aquilina had turned proceedings into a "media circus."
She berated him for criticizing the process. In an MLive video, Aquilina can be heard saying:
"You may find it harsh that you are here, listening, but nothing is as harsh as what your victims endured for thousands of hours at your hands collectively. You spent thousands of hours perpetrating criminal sexual conduct on minors. Spending four or five days listening to them is significantly minor considering the hours of pleasure you've had at their expense and ruining their lives. None of this should come as a surprise to you."
More women are expected to speak on Friday.
Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.