Published: Sun, April 22, 2018
Medical | By Bryan Strickland

Karolyis say they knew nothing of gymnastics sex abuse

Karolyis say they knew nothing of gymnastics sex abuse

Nassar is now serving decades in prison for molesting women and girls and for possessing child pornography.

Former US Olympic gymnastics coaches Bela and Marta Karolyi, whose training ranch became the center of a sex abuse scandal, told NBC News they never knew ex-team doctor Larry Nassar was preying upon the girls they were training.

"The whole thing is just like an explosion, a bomb exploding - Boom", he said.

A congressional committee investigating sexual abuse in gymnastics said in February 8 letters to the Karolyis, USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee that they were all "at the center of many of these failures" that allowed Nassar's sexual abuse to persist for more than two decades.

The Karolyis, both 75, spoke with NBC for a "Dateline NBC" special to be broadcast Sunday. He has been accused of abusing more than 260 female athletes, including several US Olympic stars, over a period spanning two decades, much of the abuse taking place under the guise of medical treatment at the 2,000-acre Karolyi ranch estate in a remote area of Texas.

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National gymnastics champion and Nassar survivor Mattie Larson explained in her January victim impact statement how the isolation of the Karoyli Ranch fostered a culture that enabled a predator like Nassar. "How I could see?" After Bela retired, his wife took over as the women's national team coordinator in 2001, stepping down after the 2016 Olympics.

"I heard during the testimonies that some of the parents were in the therapy room with their own child and Larry Nassar was performing this, and the parent couldn't see", Martha Karolyi said. But other coaches and former gymnasts say the Karolyis' early successes - starting with Romania's Nadia Comaneci becoming the first female gymnast awarded a flawless score in competition - validated the cutthroat attitudes that fostered widespread mistreatment of American athletes at the highest levels of women's gymnastics.

"They answered every question", Guthrie said. He continued to work at Michigan State University through the fall of 2016 before being hit with federal charges. “At no time did their lawyer jump in and say ‘You cant answer that.”.

While it's still unclear whether the Karolyis knew of Nassar's abuse, dozens of athletes allege other forms of abuse took place at the ranch including verbal and emotional abuse, and limiting food intake of athletes during arduous training sessions. And Gina Nichols, mother of gymnast Maggie Nichols and the first parent to learn of the sexual abuse, tells how she also pressed USA Gymnastics for an investigation into Nassar more than a year before his arrest.

Martha Karolyi denied having any knowledge about Nassar's pattern of abuse.

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