Lawsuit alleges that Dr Larry Nassar ‘sexually groomed and proceeded to repeatedly sexually abuse, harass and molest’ her when gymnast was a minor
The former team doctor for USA Gymnastics has been accused of sexually assaulting two former gymnasts, including a medal-winning Olympian.
The Olympian, who is not being named, alleged in a civil lawsuit filed last week in California that Dr Larry G Nassar “systematically sexually groomed [her] and proceeded to repeatedly sexually abuse, harass and molest” from 1994 to 2000, when she was a minor.
The civil suit also names USA Gymnastics and the organization’s current and past presidents, alleging that the governing body “ignored and/or actively concealed the abuse that was being perpetrated” by Nassar.
A second former gymnast, Rachel Denhollander, filed a police complaint against Nassar in August, according to the Indianapolis Star. In an interview with the Star, which first reported the allegations, Denhollander alleged that Nassar sexually assaulted her during medical treatments when she was 15 years old. Denhollander allowed the Star to make her name public.
The allegations of sexual abuse within the gymnastics community come just one month after the Indianapolis Star published a major investigation into USA Gymnastics’ failure to report incidents of sexual misconduct to law enforcement, despite maintaining files of complaints on more than 50 coaches.
Nassar’s attorney Matthew Borgula said in a statement to the Guardian: “Dr Nassar denies any misconduct relating to any gymnast, patient or anyone else. To the extent he provided medical treatment to anyone, that treatment was always done with the consent of the patient.”
“He is proud of his 29 years of volunteer service with USA Gymnastics. He has never been accused of any crime or ever been sued until this current lawsuit, which alleges misconduct that occurred 16 years ago,” the statement continued. “He plans on vigorously defending himself and his reputation in court and believes he will be exonerated.”
USA Gymnastics released a statement on Monday: “Immediately after learning of athlete concerns about Dr Nassar in the summer of 2015, Steve Penny, president and CEO of USA Gymnastics, notified law enforcement.
“We also relieved Dr Nassar of his duties, and he ceased to be affiliated with USA Gymnastics. USA Gymnastics has cooperated fully with the law enforcement agency since we first notified them of the matter, including – at their request – refraining from making further statements or taking any other action that might interfere with the agency’s investigation.”
According to a biography on the website of Michigan State University, Nassar joined USA Gymnastics’ medical staff in 1986 and became the “national team physician” responsible for coordinating medical care at “every national and international competition” in 1996.
Nassar was suspended on 30 August from “clinical and patient duties” by the university, where he is a faculty member and team physician for the women’s gymnastics and crew teams, the Star reported.
The civil complaint against Nassar details years of alleged abuse, during which time the osteopath “groomed” the young girl to believe that his fondling of her breasts and genitalia was part of his medical “treatment”.
“This is somebody who represented our country and should have been protected and wasn’t,” said John Manly, the attorney for the plaintiff. “Our country failed this woman. USA Gymnastics failed this woman.”
Manly said that he believed the Indianapolis Star’s exposé of USA Gymnastics has “made it safe for people to come forward” with stories of abuse.
“My phone has been blowing up all day with other victims of Dr Nassar,” he said. “Dr Nassar did this to a lot of people over a long time.”
Ex-USA Gymnastics doctor accused of sexually assaulting a former Olympian Julia Carrie Wongin San Francisco 14 September 2016