Video footage of police interviews with Nassar made in 2014 and 2016 was obtained by WXYZ’s 7 Action News after being released through the Freedom of Information Act on Tuesday. The disgraced doctor detailed medical procedures he performed on young female gymnasts while working as the team physician. Nassar acknowledged he touched the girls in intimate zones, including penetrating them, but insisted it was part of his medical treatment.
“I’m doing this on 10-year-olds, 12-year-olds. Ok? With their parents there,” he said. “But I’m doing a doggone good job explaining things.”
When asked why he touched his patients’ breast during exams Nassar insisted that he just “moved the breast down” while massaging the chest wall and the rib cage.
“I don’t get it. Why didn’t she [a gymnast] say something if she was feeling violated in any way, shape or form… there was no communication,” he added attempting to defend himself when first accusations of sexual assault were brought against him.
“That’s my self-torture, I guess you could say. Yes she was victimized, but I was victimized to myself,” Nassar said.
In 2014, the pedophile doctor avoided criminal proceedings, as the Ingham County prosecutor declined to bring charges against him. However, two years later he was brought into interrogation room again after another gymnast came forward claiming she suffered sexual abuse at the hands of Nassar.
Talking about his sexual arousal during medical exams, which was observed by the gymnast and her mom on numerous occasions, Nassar said it was a normal reaction of a man.
“I shouldn’t be getting erection during an exam…When you’re a guy, sometimes you get an erection,” he said.
In February, Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison after pleading guilty to molesting young gymnasts under the guise of medical treatment.
More than 260 women filed lawsuits against him, claiming to have been sexually abused by the former therapist.
High-profile US gymnasts, including Olympic champions Raisman, Simone Biles, Mckayla Maroney, Gabby Douglas and Jordyn Wieber, were among those to reveal that they were abused by Nassar during their time on the national team.
In an hour-long NBC News Dateline special, aired on Sunday, Martha and her husband Bela Karolyi broke their silence, responding to the accusations brought against them by several alleged Nassar victims. The pair declared that they were not involved in the sexual abuse scheme orchestrated by the former team physician.
“The whole gymnastics community couldn’t recognize this,” Martha Karolyi said. “Everybody said, ‘Larry Nassar is a good doctor. Larry Nassar is a good guy.’”
The Karolyis insisted they were fully focused on the training process at their ranch, which housed the country’s best gymnasts, without knowing that young female athletes suffered sexual abuse at the hands of the team doctor.
“I feel extremely bad,” she added. “I don’t feel responsible, but I feel extremely hurt that these things happened and it happened everywhere but it happened here, also,” the woman said, outlining that in “no way” had she suspected Nassar of sexually abusing young gymnasts under the guise of medical treatment.
Martha Karolyi stressed that Nassar’s sexual misconduct remained unnoticed even when he performed his ‘therapy’ in the presence of the gymnasts’ parents.
“I heard during the testimonies [at Nassar’s trial] that some of the parents were in the therapy room with their own child and Larry Nassar was performing this,” she said. “And the parent couldn’t see. How I could see?”
The Karolyis have been named as co-defendants in several civil lawsuits filed by the gymnasts against Nassar and USA Gymnastics. They claimed that the Romanian specialists implemented a win-at-all-costs approach at their ranch, which had been the US team’s training camp venue for many years.
Olympic champion Aly Raisman, who has been vocal on the Nassar issue, repeatedly accused the Karolyis of creating unhealthy conditions at the ranch that made gymnasts vulnerable to Nassar.
In February, Nassar, who had worked for more than 20 years as the US team physician, was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison after pleading guilty to molesting young gymnasts seeking medical treatment from him.
More than 260 women filed lawsuits against the disgraced doctor, claiming to have been sexually abused by him.
High-profile American gymnasts, including Olympic champions Raisman, Simone Biles, Mckayla Maroney, Gabby Douglas and Jordyn Wieber, were among those to reveal they were abused by Nassar during their time on the US national team.
Randall Margraves attempted to get his hands on the disgraced US gymnastics team doctor, who has been sentenced to 175 years in prison, after his daughters gave victim impact statements detailing the abuse they suffered at the hands of Nassar.
The visibly upset dad first asked for “five minutes in a locked room with this demon” before rushing at Nassar, only to be tackled by police.
As he was led away from the courtroom, he shouted: “I want that son of a bitch… give me one minute with that bastard.”
In the aftermath of the dramatic scene a GoFundMe campaign was launched to help cover any legal costs Margraves could potentially face. The fundraiser had a goal of $1,000 but it quickly smashed that target and by Saturday morning it had already raised more than $24,000.
Because Margraves was not charged for the incident Aaron Pangborn, who set up the GoFundMe page, said he will work with the Margraves family to ensure the funds collected will go towards helping victims of sexual abuse.
However the Margraves’ lawyer said that the family had not authorized the fundraiser and suggested that donors should ask for a refund.
Margraves later apologized to the court for his outburst, saying he was devastated by hearing his daughters’ statements and he lost control. “I’m not here to upstage my daughters,” he said. “I’m here to help them heal.”
Eaton County Circuit Judge Janice Cunningham dismissed the idea that Margraves would face charges, saying: “There is no way this court is going to issue any type of punishment due to the circumstances of this case.”
In total Larry Nassar has been accused of sexual abuse by 265 women.
Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman said she’s not satisfied with the 40- to 175-year prison sentence for former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University team doctor Larry Nassar, who has been accused of sexually abusing more than 150 girls.
“It’s like he got one year for each person, like that’s not enough,” Raisman told Us Weekly.
Raisman, a three-time Olympic gold medalist, revealed in November that Nassar abused her under the guise of medical treatment. Fellow gymnasts Simone Biles, Jordyn Wieber and McKayla Maroney also accused the former team doctor of sexual abuse.
“He’s gonna die in jail, but any number is never enough,” Raisman said. “I’m glad because so many people are watching and I hope that it does set an example to all the other abusers out there that their time is up and that abuse is never OK.”
Raisman has been an outspoken critic of USA Gymnastics, the U.S. Olympic Committee and Michigan State University for allowing Nassar’s abuse for more than two decades.
“We have to fix the problem and the organizations,” Raisman said.
Before Nassar’s sentencing hearing began on Jan. 16, Raisman tweeted that USA Gymnastics is “100 percent responsible” for the abuse, adding: “We must understand how this happened to make sure it never occurs again… The system has to change so that athletes are safe.”
Raisman was one of more than 150 women to deliver victim impact statements in court during Nassar’s weeklong hearing.
“Larry, you do realize now that we, this group of women you so heartlessly abused over such a long period of time, are now a force and you are nothing,” she said in court.
Nassar was sentenced last week on seven counts of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree. He had already been serving 60 years in prison on child pornography charges and awaits sentencing on three additionally counts of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree.
“When I was little I only thought that I could be hurt by a stranger,” Raisman told Us Weekly. “I mean, you have to teach kids that it could be someone that you’re very close with and… we have to teach them grooming techniques so they understand the warning signs of a predator.”
When Thomashow spoke up, Nassar’s colleagues told the Title IX investigator looking into her complaint that Thomashow wasn’t familiar with osteopathic medicine and wouldn’t know the “nuanced difference” between a legitimate procedure and a sexual assault. Thomashow was a medical student at the time. Thomashow’s mother went to medical school with Nassar, and also sent her younger daughter, Jessica, who competed in gymnastics as a child, to see him for a rib injury when she was 9. Jessica Thomashow is now 17 and says Nassar abused her on multiple occasions.
The Thomashow sisters were 2 of 89 women who spoke out at Nassar’s sentencing hearing in Ingham County over a four-day period last week, a hearing that is expected to end Wednesday after almost 160 survivors will have addressed him and Judge Rosemarie Aquilina.
For all of these women and girls who spoke at the sentencing hearing, there are countless others behind them who weren’t abused themselves, but who were victims of Nassar’s manipulation. Among them were many parents who sat in Nassar’s exam rooms while, unbeknownst to them, he abused their daughters. “You made all of us parents unwilling accomplices,” Gonczar’s mother said to Nassar at the hearing. Gymnastics coach Tom Brennan, who once called Nassar his mentor, expressed his “unfathomable guilt” for referring hundreds of child athletes to Nassar.
As a doctor at Michigan State University, Nassar turned the city of Lansing into his personal playground, exploiting his status as “the Olympic doctor” to gain the trust and loyalty of an entire community. When USA Gymnastics allowed him to retire, rather than firing him after national team member Maggie Nichols made abuse allegations in 2015, Nassar wrote on Facebook that he was stepping down so he could focus on running for the school board in the town of Holt. By the time the election was held a year later, dozens of women had accused him of sexual abuse, and the Michigan attorney general and the FBI had opened investigations into his behavior. And yet Nassar managed to secure more than 20 percent of the vote.
Nassar’s legions of adult admirers and enablers worked hard to discredit those allegations. When 2000 Olympic gymnastics bronze medalist Jamie Dantzscher became the first to go public with her accusations, hundreds of people used social media to send their support to Nassar, and to call Dantzscher a liar. And in December 2016, when the FBI arrested Nassar on federal child pornography charges, his longtime friend Kathie Klages, then the head coach of the MSU women’s gymnastics program, pressured her gymnasts to sign a sympathy card saying they supported him.
One of these gymnasts was Lindsey Lemke, then a junior in her second season at MSU. In high school, Lemke trained at Twistars, the gym that employed Nassar as a visiting physician a few nights a week. Twistars is owned by a coach named John Geddert, and many of Nassar’s victims claim that Geddert knew about Nassar’s serial sexual abuse of children, with at least one describing him as the “Bonnie to Geddert’s Clyde.” Lemke was treated by Nassar for more than a decade, for various injuries, and believes that he deliberately kept her injured so he could continue his abuse. She retired from gymnastics this fall due to the same back issues Nassar failed ― or chose not ― to heal.
Lemke depended on Nassar, whom she considered the “good guy” on tough and intense days in the gym. This is a sentiment echoed by nearly every athlete who spoke at the sentencing hearing. As he was for me, he was their confidant. He listened to them, reassured them, gave them candy and gifts and healed their pain (or so they thought). Nassar was the Olympic doctor, the man Bela Karolyi handed the injured Kerri Strug to after her infamous vault injury at the 1996 games, the legend who only treated the best of the best. Parents and coaches were honored to send their kids to him because it meant their kids were special, and they trusted whatever he said or did without question.
Nassar will almost certainly spend the rest of his life in prison. This will be an incomplete serving of justice unless institutions like MSU and USA Gymnastics, which ignored and silenced victims who tried to come forward, are finally held accountable. Throughout the grueling sentencing hearing, I listened to dozens of parents, siblings, coaches, friends and teammates blame themselves for not knowing about or stopping the abuse their loved ones endured. I wondered how so many people could be so blind for so long. And then I remembered my own relationship with Nassar. I know that they, too, were under his spell.
He is a manipulator, a narcissist and a predator who created an army of admirers and confidants thousands strong. Each time Nassar was caught, every time a girl or a woman tried to speak out about his abuse, that army made excuses and went on the defensive, insisting that Larry was the last person in the world who would ever do something like that. For decades, it worked. But thanks to the persistence and bravery of the women who came forward and fought like hell to be heard, the power he had over so many is finally lifting.
It is not easy to believe that a man you once respected, or even loved, could ever hurt someone ― let alone be responsible for the worst sexual abuse system in the history of American sports. Making us respect and love him was part of his plan, which is why so many people chose to believe him over his victims, and worse, why so many people were willing to cover up and even enable him further, creating an environment and culture that allowed Nassar to thrive.
When most people hear about the Nassar case, they inevitably ask, “Why didn’t anyone speak up sooner?” As former Twistars gymnast Bailey Lorencen recalled in her statement on Monday, Nassar’s enablers shut down reports of abuse, and publicly called the first victims to come forward liars. “It took 37,000 pornographic images of children on his computer for people to believe that Nassar could do something like this,” Lorencen told the hearing. “And you wonder why nobody wanted to speak up?” They tried to, for decades. But no one was listening.
Lauren Hopkins is editor-in-chief for The Gymternet and has been writing about gymnastics since 2010. She is an Emmy Award-winning producer for NBC Olympics’ digital gymnastics coverage of the 2016 Olympic Games.
This piece is part of HuffPost’s brand-new Opinion section. For more information on how to pitch us an idea, go here.
Three USA Gymnastics directors have resigned amid fierce criticism that the organization failed to protect its athletes from team doctor Larry Nassar, a serial predator whose sentencing hearing continues this week.
“USA Gym Board of Directors executive leadership ― Chairman Paul Parilla, Vice Chairman Jay Binder & Treasurer Bitsy Kelley ― tendered their resignations, effective Jan. 21, 2018,” a tweet from the organization on Monday says. “The Board of Directors will identify an interim chairperson until a permanent selection is named.”
The announcement comes during Nassar’s sentencing hearing on 10 counts of first-degree sexual misconduct, which began Jan. 16 and will end later this week. The former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University team doctor has been accused of sexually abusing over 140 young girls under the guise of medical treatment over the course of two decades.
USA Gym Board of Directors executive leadership – Chairman Paul Parilla, Vice Chairman Jay Binder & Treasurer Bitsy Kelley – tendered their resignations, effective Jan. 21, 2018. The Board of Directors will identify an interim chairperson until a permanent selection is named.
Kerry Perry, president and CEO of USA Gymnastics, said she supports the resignations.
“We believe this step will allow us to more effectively move forward in implementing change within our organization,” Perry said in a statement. “As the board identifies its next chair and fills the vacant board positions, we remain focused on working every day to ensure that our culture, policies and actions reflect our commitment to those we serve.”
USA Gymnastics did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for further comment.
Attorney John Manly, who represents more than 100 Nassar victims, called the resignation “a public relations ploy” in a statement to HuffPost.
“In speaking with some of our clients this morning, all of them wondered whether USAG will change the position they have taken in court that USAG had no duty to warn its member gymnasts even though they knew Larry Nassar was a molester,” he said. “Until that happens, this move is simply a public relations ploy to save a sinking ship of an organization.”
Manly demanded Congress open an investigation into how the U.S. Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics and MSU have handled the Nassar accusations. He added that many of the board members who remain were “well aware of USAG’s concealment of sexual abuse, its non-compliance with reporting statutes and harsh treatment of sexual abuse survivors.”
“It should not have more than 100 young women publicly baring their souls about their sexual assault by Larry Nassar to finally get USAG to act,” Manly said. “It’s important to note that 54 USAG Coaches have been credibly accused of sexually molesting little girls and boys in the last 20 years. Child molestation is a cancer in USAG and those responsible need to be completely ousted from the organization so there is nothing left of their influence.”
More than 100 women have read victim impact statements during Nassar’s sentencing. Many called out USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University for disregarding or failing to report warnings about Nassar’s abuse.
It appears the organizations “only see us as a financial burden that needs to be silenced and squashed, devalued and discredited all while trying to say they are sorry it happened to us and are on our side,” survivor Larissa Boyce recently told HuffPost.
Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman wrote in a series of tweets this month that USA Gymnastics is “100 percent responsible” for Nassar being allowed to continue his abuse for so long.
“We must understand how this happened to make sure it never occurs again,” Raisman tweeted. ”… The system has to change so that athletes are safe. Enablers need to be held accountable.”
The president of USA Gymnastics, Steve Penny, resigned in March 2017 amid the investigation.
Nassar is already serving 60 years in prison on child pornography charges and faces a minimum of an additional 25 years on the sexual misconduct charges.
This article has been updated to include a comment from attorney John Manly.
In a post shared on her Twitter and Instagram pages on Monday, Biles detailed the ordeal she says she suffered while competing for the national gymnastics squad.
“I too am one of the many survivors that was sexually abused by Larry Nassar,” the gymnast wrote in her post. “There are many reasons that I have been reluctant to share my story but I know now it is not my fault.”
A post shared by Simone Biles (@simonebiles) on Jan 15, 2018 at 1:24pm PST
Nassar, who had worked as the US team physician for more than 20 years, was sentenced in December to 60 years in federal prison for possessing child pornography. He has admitted abusing young gymnasts.
In her message, 20-year-old Biles added that “it was a lot harder to speak those words out loud” than to “put them on paper,” but that she decided she could no longer “carry the guilt” that she said belongs to the disgraced doctor, as well as the USA Gymnastics (USAG) and others who she feels turned a blind eye to Nassar’s crimes.
“For too long I’ve asked myself, ‘Was I too naive? was it my fault?’ I now know the answer to those questions,” she wrote. “No. No, it was not my fault. No, I will not and should not carry the guilt that belongs to Larry Nassar, USAG, and others.”
The four-time Olympic champion said that Nassar, whom “she was told to trust,” had abused her as well as other girls under the guise of medical treatment, calling his behavior “completely unacceptable, disgusting and abusive.”
“It is not normal to receive any type of treatment from a trusted team physician and refer to it horrifyingly as the ‘special’ treatment,” the gymnast wrote.
Biles is making her return to elite gymnastics after a one-year break and said it would be difficult to train in the same gym where Nassar allegedly molested her.
“It is impossibly difficult to relive these experiences and it breaks my heart even more to think that as I work towards my dream of competing in Tokyo 2020, I will have to continually return to the same training facility where I was abused,” Biles wrote.
Earlier, members of the US 2012 gold-winning squad McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas said they were abused by the team doctor, whose actions continued for many years.
Last month, Maroney filed a lawsuit against USAG, stating that she was paid to keep quiet about sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of Nassar.
Biles said she was encouraged to share her own experience of sexual assault after hearing the stories of her teammates.
“After hearing the brave stories of my friends and other survivors, I know that this horrific experience does not define me,” she wrote. “I won’t let one man, and the others that enabled him, to steal my love and joy,” Biles added.