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Texas Governor Requests Criminal Investigation into Karolyi Ranch
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Texas Governor Greg Abbott formally requested a "full and thorough investigation" on Tuesday into the allegations of sexual abuse at the Karolyi ranch, the former U.S. national gymnastics training center where former team doctor Larry Nassar sexually assaulted an unknown number of gymnasts.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott formally requested a "full and thorough investigation" on Tuesday into the allegations of sexual abuse at the Karolyi ranch, the former U.S. national gymnastics training center owned by Bela and Marta Karolyi where former team doctor Larry Nassar sexually assaulted an unknown number of gymnasts.

After statements by 156 survivors of his sexual abuse, nearly all committed under the guise of medical treatment, Nassar was sentenced from 40 to 175 years in prison last Wednesday in Ingham County, Michigan, the location of Michigan State University and Geddert's Twistar's Gymnastics club. He faces a second sentencing Wednesday in Eaton County, Michigan, for three additional charges related to sexual assaults of a child at his former home in Holt.

Calling the statements made by the athletes who trained at the ranch gut-wrenching, Gov. Abbott sent a letter to Col. Steven C. McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, requesting that the Texas state police force, known as the Texas Rangers, open an immediate investigation.

"The recent, shocking allegations of sexual assault of athletes at the Karolyi Ranch in Walker County are deeply disturbing and demand thorough and swift justice," Gov. Abbott wrote.

The Walker County Sheriff's Office is actively investigating the allegations at the ranch, which is situated in the Sam Houston National Forest near New Waverly, Texas.

The statements of the survivors shocked the world as each described a manipulative doctor who took advantage of vulnerable young girls whose lives were severely damaged by his depravity. Nearly all accused institutions and individuals of enabling Nassar or ignoring his abuse, including accusations against coaches of creating physical and psychologically abusive training conditions that allowed Nassar to groom his victims by sneaking them food and offering emotional support as a ploy. In heartbreaking testimony on January 23, Mattie Larson, a 2010 world team member, broke down as she described injuring herself to avoid attending the monthly national team camp at the ranch, which she compared to a prison. He pleaded guilty in November 2017, one year after he was first arrested and 14 months after The Indianapolis Star reported the story of Rachael Denhollander, the first woman to publicly accuse Nassar of sexual assault. Its September 12, 2016, article also included the news that a 2000 Olympian (later identified as Jamie Dantzscher) had filed a Jane Doe lawsuit against Nassar and USA Gymnastics in California, and that a third former gymnast, (later revealed to be former rhythmic national champion Jessica Howard) had also contacted the newspaper to report being assaulted by Nassar.

The Karolyi ranch, originally established as a summer camp by the Hungarian-Romanian coaching couple, had served as the U.S. national team training center for the women's artistic gymnastics team since 2001. Designated an official United States Olympic Training Center, the ranch was later expanded to add training facilities for rhythmic gymnastics and trampoline and tumbling. USA Gymnastics leased the facility from the Karolyis.

In June 2015, coach Sara Jantzi overheard her gymnast, Maggie Nichols, discussing Nassar's "treatments" with Aly Raisman and a third gymnast. Alarmed, she confirmed that Nassar's treatments included vaginal penetration of the gymnasts that he claimed was a legitimate medical act to help injuries. She reported him to USA Gymnastics and Maggie's mother, Gina. USA Gymnastics claims it reported Nassar to the FBI in July 2015, five weeks after Nichols' report. Nassar left USA Gymnastics in September 2015, announcing he was retiring.

In July 2016, USA Gymnastics' then-President/CEO Steve Penny announced it was purchasing the ranch, despite knowledge of the sexual abuse that had occurred there. After allegations against Nassar became public, USA Gymnastics announced it would not finalize the purchase of the ranch. However, the organization failed to take any solid action to end its relationship with the ranch or find an alternative training center until January 18, several days into Nassar's sentencing hearing, when it announced it had abruptly terminated the lease with the ranch, which finally occurred only after massive public backlash. A developmental camp, the second of the year, was in process at the time of the announcement.

On January 16, the day before Nassar's sentencing hearing began, four-time Olympic champion Simone Biles came forward and revealed for the first time that she too had been abused by Nassar, and was traumatized at having to return there. The first senior national training camp was scheduled to begin January 22.

"It breaks my heart even more to think that as I work toward my dream of competing in Tokyo 2020, I will have to continually return to the same training facility where I was abused," Biles wrote in her statement posted to social media.

Nassar, who began working with USA Gymnastics in 1986 as an athletic trainer, became the national medical coordinator in 1996, three years after qualifying as a doctor of osteopathy in Michigan. He was never licensed to practice clinical medicine in Texas, which means each day he practiced medicine at the ranch, where his duties included diagnosing and treating injuries and overseeing medication, was a felony in the third degree. Harming someone while practicing medicine without a license in Texas is an additional felony in the third degree. Counting the first-degree felonies of sexual assault, it is probable that Nassar committed thousands of felonies at the ranch.

In sentencing Nassar on January 24, Judge Rosemarie E. Aquilina requested a "massive" investigation into how Nassar was able to freely assault so many girls and women over a 25-year period.

Letter from Texas Governor Greg Abbott

January 30, 2018
Colonel Steven C. McCraw
Director, Texas Department of Public Safety
P.O. Box 4087 Austin, Texas 78773-0001

Dear Director McCraw:

The recent, shocking allegations of sexual assault of athletes at the Karolyi Ranch in Walker County are deeply disturbing and demand thorough and swift justice. I understand that the Walker County Sheriff's Office is actively investigating the allegations, and I commend that office for its diligence in the matter.

Considering that criminal action has been implicated across multiple jurisdictions and states, it is essential that the Texas Rangers work with the Walker County Sheriff's Office to comprehensively investigate all potential criminal conduct.

The public statements made by athletes who previously trained at the Karolyi Ranch are gut-wrenching. Those athletes, as well as all Texans, deserve to know that no stone is left unturned to ensure that the allegations are thoroughly vetted and the perpetrators and enablers of any such misconduct are brought to justice. The people of Texas demand, and the victims deserve, nothing less.

Therefore, I request that the Texas Rangers initiate a full and thorough investigation into the alleged sexual misconduct at the Karolyi Ranch. The Rangers' reputation as the state's preeminent law enforcement agency is well known, and I have no doubt that they, together with the Walker County Sheriff's Office, will provide the resources and expertise needed for a successful investigation.

Sincerely,

Greg Abbott
Governor

Comments (1)add comment

David Frost said:

0
Management Consultant
I am one of the few outsiders to be allowed in the Karolyi Camp with Mattie Larson, because she's like a daughter to me and she was trained there for many years. It concerned me that parents were rarely allowed, it was so isolated and how much unsupervised power Marta Karolyi had over these young girls (athletes). Today, Mattie Larson and Senator Dianne Feinstein endeavored to introduce a 'Safe Sport' law in Congress, protecting young athlete's from Predators like Larry Nasser. I would like to see Congress Appoint Mattie Larson as the first "Athlete Advocate Monitor' with US Govt support and authority to visit with young female athletes to make sure a female coach is always with them when examined be a male in any capacity AND to make sure that no US Coach is bullying young athletes to train, practice and compete with physical injuries. All of this has taken place under the Karolyis, with their network of coaches AND with the knowledge and support of USA GYMNASTICS!
 
January 30, 2018
Votes: +13

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