Tuesday, 7 December 2021

US gymnastics coaching duo says doctor’s sex abuse surprised them

Larry Nassar, a former team USA Gymnastics doctor who pleaded guilty in November 2017 to sexual assault charges, sits in the courtroom during his sentencing hearing in the Eaton County Court in Charlotte, Michigan, U.S., February 2, 2018.   REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

(Photo: Reuters/Rebecca Cook)

NEW YORK: The coaching couple who helped turn the U.S. women’s gymnastics team into a global powerhouse said in a TV interview aired on Friday that they knew nothing about the alleged sexual assaults by team doctor Larry Nassar at their training camp.

Nassar is serving a life sentence after nearly 200 victims testified that he sexually abused them over decades, a scandal that shook the gymnastics world and prompted a series of civil investigations into the sport and the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Martha and Bela Karolyi, under whose coaching U.S. gymnasts have consistently medaled since the 1990s, told NBC they were shocked by the revelations that Nassar abused young women at the couple’s Huntsville, Texas, facility, which had been the Olympic training site for the USA Gymnastics National Team.

“The whole thing is just like an explosion, a bomb exploding,” Bela Karolyi said in the NBC interview, a portion of which was shown Friday on the “Today” program.

Martha Karolyi said she had no way of knowing Nassar had been sexually abusing athletes.

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