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Abuse in women’s gymnastics

Gymnastics scandal: Rangers probe alleged abuse at Karolyi Ranch

Gymnastics scandal: Rangers probe alleged abuse at Karolyi Ranch

The Texas Rangers have been ordered to investigate allegations of abuse at the Karolyi Ranch, the training center near Huntsville founded by famed coaches and used by USA Gymnastics to build powerhouse Olympics teams.

In a letter to the state police agency, Gov. Greg Abbott cited "recent, shocking" allegations made by athletes at a marathon sentencing hearing for former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, who has been accused of sexual abuse by more than 150 ex-patients.

(OP: Source has videohere which I wasn't able to embed…)

But allegations that Bela and Marta Karolyi turned a blind eye to Nassar's predation actually surfaced more than a year ago when a gymnast named them in a lawsuit filed in California.

The Karolyis, the lawsuit charged, "created a toxic environment where the perpetrator [Nassar] was given opportunity to perpetrate and continue his systematic sexual abuse of minor children."

The suit also claimed the couple hit and scratched the youngsters who lived and trained at the ranch, and let Nassar do what he wanted in exchange for not reporting them to authorities.

Since then, other gymnasts have spoken about how Nassar would come to their cabins at the ranch at night and molest them under the guise of medical treatment.

During the sentencing hearing, former national team gymnast Mattie Larson said the isolation of the ranch and the Karolyis' iron-fisted rule gave Nassar the opportunity to molest young girls.

"There's an eerie feeling as soon as you step foot on the Karolyi Ranch," she said in court, detailing how she once injured herself — banging her head against the tub at home — so she did not have to go to a training camp.

Mattie Larson speaks at the sentencing hearing for Larry Nassar.

"When I attended the next camp, Marta Karolyi approached me and said, ‘You know what, [Olympic gymnast] Kim Zmeskal fell out of the top bunk in the cabins here and didn’t miss practice the next day,'" Larson recalled. "She did not say another word to me for the rest of the camp."

John Manly, an attorney for many of Nassar's accusers, called the Texas Rangers' investigation "long overdue."

"It's very important to find out how hundreds were molested and abused at this house of horrors. It’s equally important to hold those responsible fully accountable," he said in a statement.

The Karolyis denied in 2016 that they knew of any abuse but they have not been heard from in recent months as the scandal has drawn more attention — resulting in shakeups at USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University, where Nassar had his practice.

The website for the ranch contains only this message, up since at least April 2017: "After nearly four decades of spiriting young gymnasts towards greatness in sport, our yearly tradition of the Karolyi's Gymnastics Camp has come to an end. Bela, Martha, and the rest of the camp staff wish to sincerely thank all participants, USA Gymnastics, and everyone who has been a part of our extended family for 35 years of unforgettable memories."

Martha and Bela Karolyi sit inside Karolyi Ranch on Jan. 26, 2011 in Huntsville, Texas.
Their attorney did not respond to requests for comment after USA Gymnastics cut ties with the ranch earlier this month, or on Tuesday after Abbott ordered the Rangers to investigate.

The Rangers will be working with the Walker County Sheriff's office, which began investigating earlier. Nassar has already pleaded guilty in Michigan to molesting 10 girls and possession of child pornography, but there have been no charges out of Texas.

OP: This is so horrible and both USA gymnastics and Michigan State University have a lot to answer for.

The Washington Post published an article on how abuse is a systemic problem in sports.

Also, another comment that has been made with regards to this situation is that there hasn't been the degree of attention to the Nassar case that there has been with regards to other cases (e.g. Penn State).

Another article with more detail on the Nassar Case is here (features several videos of victims speaking at Nassar's sentencing hearing, so trigger warnings apply).

A quote from the article in The Guardian (just above) about the Nassar case:
“Late on Wednesday, the president of Michigan State University, where Nassar also treated athletes, said on Wednesday she was tendering her resignation. Lou Anna Simon had faced a barrage of criticism for not doing enough to halt the abuse by the doctor, including a scathing front-page editorial by the independent student newspaper that cast “Simon, her appointees and cheerleaders” as “enablers”.

“As tragedies are politicized, blame is inevitable. As president, it is only natural that I am the focus of this anger,” Simon said in her resignation letter.”
(OP: That sounds like a non apology/fauxpology to me…)

In Larry Nassar probe, Michigan Attorney General Schuette eyes former MSU staffers (i.e. on the investigation in Michigan regarding MSU's actions in response to complaints regarding Nassar).

Also, as pertains to the Karolyis, this was known for some time. Former Olympic gymnast Dominique Moceanu (who represented the US in 1996) accused the Karolyis of abuse: Gold medalist Dominique Moceanu warned us 10 years ago about abuse in USA gymnastics.

Other gymnasts have also alleged abuse at the hands of the Karolyis: Emilia Eberle (i.e. Romanian Olympic team member in 1976), Kristie Phillips (former US national champion and 1988 Olympic team member), Erica Stokes (former US elite gymnast), and others.

OP: Another example of this kind of thing is below: it was a pretty big item in the news over here in Canada.

Gymnastics Canada suspends Edmonton-based coach in wake of sex-abuse allegations

'No athlete should be subject to this type of conduct,' head of Gymnastics Canada says in news release

Champions Gymnastics, located at 95th Avenue and 49th Street in Edmonton, was founded by Michel Arsenault and his wife in 2002.

Gymnastics Canada has suspended Edmonton-based coach Michel Arsenault amid allegations he sexually abused some of his former students in Quebec in the 1980s and '90s.

"No athlete should be subject to this type of conduct, and we are working tirelessly to ensure that all of our participants are able to take part in our sport in a safe and welcoming environment," Richard Crépin, chair of the board of directors for Gymnastics Canada, said in a news release.

A Wednesday report by the sports unit of Radio-Canada, CBC's French-language network, detailed the accounts of three gymnasts who said Arsenault sexually abused them when they were minors and members of Flipgym in Montreal.

Former Quebec gymnasts accuse coach of sexually abusing them as minors in 1980s, '90s

Arsenault was fired from the gym in 1993 and left Quebec in 1994. He settled in Edmonton and got a job coaching gymnastics at a local gym. In 2002, he and his wife opened their own gym, Champions Gymnastics, which issued a statement yesterday in wake of the Radio-Canada report saying Arsenault would no longer be involved in any of the gym's activities and was barred from the premises.

Arsenault, who is well known as one of Canada's top women's gymnastics coaches, has not been charged with any crime. He did not respond to repeated requests for comment on the initial story.

Three former gymnasts who were coached by Arsenault in Montreal during the 1980s and early '90s say he engaged in sexually abusive behaviour. Others say he made intimidation, humiliation and demeaning comments a routine part of their training.

Gymnastics Canada and the Alberta Gymnastics Federation both issued statements Thursday stressing that the safety and well-being of the sport's participants is of the highest priority.

Peter Nicol, president and CEO of Gymnastics Canada, said Tuesday the allegations come as the national and provincial agencies are reviewing and updating all policies and procedures, ranging from how to report incidents to conducting background checks.

An important piece of this review, he told CBC News in Ottawa, is educating staff, coaches, trainers, parents and athletes about unacceptable behaviour — and what to do if it happens.

"I should know that it's not going to impact me as an athlete, that I am reporting something that is really not acceptable," Nicol said.

"We should learn from this situation and really make sure that people feel comfortable coming forward. When they see something that is not acceptable, yes, please report it, bring it to the authorities and make sure that it is stopped."

Scott Hayes, president of the Alberta Gymnastics Federation, said its agency has policies in place around the screening of employees, coaches, judges, support staff and volunteers who travel and work with the athletes.

"We continue to review and update our policies and procedures to ensure that they meet our commitment to safe sport and minimize risks to our participants," Hayes said in a statement.

The notice posted yesterday on the Champions Gymnastics website said the gym is taking the allegations seriously and wants to reassure parents and children who attend the facility. The doors to the east-Edmonton gym were locked Thursday morning.

Nicol said actions taken by Gymnastics Canada, the Alberta Gymnastics Federation and Champions  Gymnastics mean Arsenault will not be able to participate in any gymnastics activities — from competitions to training camps — "so his contact to any athlete should be cut to zero at this time."

Nicol said the suspensions will remain in effect until the issue has reached "resolution."


OP: I actually am a former gymnast myself (not that good and not high level or anything, but I looooved it) and I attended the club in Quebec during the time this guy was coaching. So I can actually attest to just how abusive this asshole was. He never molested me (he wasn't my coach and from the article he seems to have focused on his gymnasts) but I often saw him being massively abusive (both verbally, emotionally and physically) towards his gymnasts. He also encouraged all the coaches in the gym to be abusive towards the gymnasts they coached, which my own coach happily took him up on.

While I was there, another coach who was taking care of super young children actually turned out to have been convicted of sexual abuse of children and was fired (the club had apparently never done a background check on him). This was a coach who worked with daycare-aged children, who often required help going to the bathroom and so on.

So basically the whole culture in sports needs to change NOW. Also, emotionally and physically abusive situations don't make athletes stronger or perform better, they're just abusive. They also create environments in which sexual predators really thrive. /really long comment

Source: ONTD_Political

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