Published: Tue, February 21, 2017
Sport | By Cecil Buchanan

Gymnastics: Ex-US gymnasts detail abuse accusations against doctor

Gymnastics: Ex-US gymnasts detail abuse accusations against doctor

Three former members of the US women's national gymnastics team say they were sexually abused by the longtime doctor for the sport's governing body.

A group of former USA gymnasts, as well as a 2000 Olympic medallist, Jamie Dantzscher, came forward Sunday saying they too had been sexually abused by the team's former doctor, who now is on trial for a separate case.

Gymnast Jeanette Antolin, here competing for UCLA in 2004, has sued former SCATS coach Don Peters and US national team physician Larry Nassar. "He would put his fingers inside of me, move my leg around", Dantzscher stated on the show. "He would tell me I was going to feel a pop and that that would put my hips back and help my back pain", Dantzscher said.

Nassar, 53, was arrested last November on charges of sexually assaulting a child in MI, and indicted in December on federal charges of possession of child pornography.

"I got a front-row seat to just how destructive that was, absolutely between him and her, but also for the entire team", she said. The 53-year-old Nassar has pleaded not guilty.

Dantzscher's said she is speaking out now because she only recently realized that what happened to her was abuse.

Bela Karolyi, the iconic coach of Nadia Comaneci and Mary Lou Retton, once grabbed her inappropriately at USA national team training camp on the Karolyi's remote Texas ranch. Investigations began in September, after the victim's attorney contacted MSU police.

He is facing separate federal charges for possession of child pornography. Coincidentally, the meeting occurred while Dr. Larry Nassar was being ordered to trial on charges of sexual assault involving the daughter of friends many years ago.

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Eighteen women have filed a lawsuit accusing USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University, which also employed and later fired Nassar, of negligence and failure to warn or protect. "You don't complain about treatment". They said they "first learned of an athlete's concern about Dr. Nassar in June 2015". He also faces charges not related to USA Gymnastics, as one woman said the doctor sexually abused her during her childhood.

The accusations came during a "60 Minutes" segment Sunday night, when the attorney, John Manly, and three of Nassar's alleged victims were interviewed by Dr. Jonathan LaPook.

One complainant was a teen who was part of a MI youth program instructed by Klages in the late 1990s, according to a lawsuit filed last month.

Klages lawyer said she never heard any allegations against Nassar and that if she had, she would have reacted immediately.

The women said as girls they did not question Nassar's procedures partly because he was seen as a "good guy" in a hostile training environment at the ranch, and they trusted him because he was a doctor. "He was someone that we would talk to when we were getting treatment, if we had a hard day", she said. Among those were three young women who said they had complained to MSU officials, including a coach, trainers and sports staff in the late 1990s and early 2000s, according to the lawsuits.

Sexual assault allegations against Nassar were first made public by the Indianapolis Star in a report in September that detailed allegations against Nassar by two former gymnasts.

The charges against Nassar highlight a dark side of competitive sports, where adults in positions of power can exploit the vulnerability of their young, eager charges.

Manly told the Washington Post the lag time between USA Gymnastics receiving a complaint notification and turning to the Federal Bureau of Investigation was woefully improper.

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