100s Of Victims Testify Over Massive Child Abuse Cover-Up In USA Gymnastics
horrifying sexual abuse they suffered at the hands of Larry Nassar
Almost 100 women and former child abuse victims will testify in court this week sharing accounts of the horrifying sexual abuse they suffered at the hands of Larry Nassar, a predatory USA Gymnastics coach who abused hundreds of girls.
The victim, Olivia Cowan, accused the Gymnastics organization of repeatedly ignoring ongoing complaints about Nassar’s abuse and general conduct stating that they are complicit in their role in the abuse they suffered as children.
“You failed all of us, and for that, I see you in the same category of criminal as I do the criminal standing before us today,” Olivia Cowan said in court on Tuesday, addressing the roles of USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University.
The victim's gut-wrenching tales of abuse and lasting effects are expected to get highly emotional, but according to the chief public affairs officer for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, Kristen Houser, the statement may be a form of therapy.
"You go through all these months of keeping a secret, and then the investigation and waiting on the court proceedings. That whole system is not at all a victim-centered experience or a system that is sensitive to the emotional toll on victims," Houser said. "This is ... the one opportunity you get to speak your piece in your own words, unedited, and say the truth about the full picture of how these things impacted your life."
“Today, I am a mother, a wife, a daughter, a friend that is struggling each day to find peace and joy in all the things that once made me happy,” Cowan said.
“Every day I miss her. Every day. And it all started with him. It all started with him, and it just became worse as the years went by until she just couldn’t deal with it anymore,” Markham said.
According to CNN: Attorney John Manly, who represents 107 victims in civil lawsuits, has argued that Nassar was supported in his abuse by three institutions: USA Gymnastics, the US Olympic Committee and Michigan State University.
Each of those "miserably failed" to protect the children under their care, he said late last year. Manly also accused USA Gymnastics of a "brazen attempt" at a cover-up. The organization has dismissed that claim.
Last week, star collegiate gymnast Maggie Nichols said that she and a coach reported Nassar's abuse to USA Gymnastics officials in 2015.
In its response, USA Gymnastics cited Nichols' "bravery" and said it reported Nassar to the FBI in July 2015 and to a different FBI office in April 2016.
The group said information from Nichols and another athlete "was important but did not provide reasonable suspicion that sexual abuse had occurred." Following an interview with a third athlete, information from all three young women was given to the FBI, it said.
‘Perhaps you have figured it out by now, but little girls don’t stay little forever. They grow into strong women that return to destroy your world.’ — This courageous group of gymnasts spoke up about their abuse while testifying against USA Gymnastics Dr. Larry Nassar pic.twitter.com/RQgvRa0rgo— NowThis (@nowthisnews) January 17, 2018
USA Gymnastics contacted the FBI after an interview with the third athlete in July 2015, the organization said. "We are sorry that any athlete has been harmed during her or his gymnastics career. USA Gymnastics is focused every day on creating a culture of empowerment that encourages our athletes to speak up about abuse and other difficult topics," the statement said.
USA Gymnastics also denied Manly's assertion that the organization tried to keep the investigation secret ahead of the Olympics.
"Contrary to reported accusations, USA Gymnastics never attempted to hide Nassar's misconduct," the group said. "The suggestion by plaintiff's counsel ... that USA Gymnastics tried to silence athletes or keep the investigation secret to avoid headlines before the Rio Olympics and to protect Los Angeles' Olympic bid is entirely baseless," the group said in a statement.
USA Gymnastics did not inform Michigan State University, which continued to employ Nassar, of the allegations, Manly said. It wasn't until August 2016 that Michigan State University Police took a report of alleged assault and opened an investigation into Nassar, the school said.
Patrick Fitzgerald, the lead attorney for Michigan State University in these cases, defended MSU in a letter to the Michigan attorney general.
"The evidence will show that no MSU official believed that Nassar committed sexual abuse prior to newspaper reports in the summer of 2016," he wrote, according to the university.
US Olympic Committee spokesperson Mark Jones said, "We were first made aware of the possibility that a USA Gymnastics physician had sexually abused USA Gymnastics athletes in the summer of 2015 when we were informed by USA Gymnastics.
"At that time USA Gymnastics indicated that they were in the process of contacting the appropriate law enforcement agencies. We are heartbroken that this abuse occurred, proud of the brave victims that have come forward and grateful that our criminal justice system has ensured that Nasser will never be able to harm another young woman.
"We are hopeful that with the US Center for SafeSport's continued education and prevention efforts, as well as their investigative and adjudicative authority, we will help ensure that tragedies like this will never happen again."
No matter the sentence, Nassar will serve the rest of his life in prison. In a federal court case, he was sentenced to 60 years in prison in December after he pleaded guilty to receiving child pornography in 2004, possessing child pornography from 2003 to 2016 and destroying evidence in 2016 as he was under investigation, according to the US Attorney's Office for the Western District of Michigan.
"I would be absolutely honored to pay this fine for you," Chrissy Teigen tweeted to McKayla Maroney; the former Olympic gymnast, who settled claims of sexual abuse by Dr. Larry Nassar with USA Gymnastics, faces potential $100,000 fine if she violates the non-disclosure agreement. pic.twitter.com/rHg65FQBNF— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 17, 2018