CLEVELAND — Nick Nutter, an All-American heavyweight wrestler at Ohio State turned professional martial arts fighter, sat watching the television last January as one by one, the young women, former gymnasts — some of them Olympians — took the stand in a courtroom in Michigan, and in wrenching testimony, detailed how their team doctor, Lawrence G. Nassar, had used his power to sexually abuse them.
WASHINGTON — Investigators working on behalf of Ohio State University are digging through decades of records to piece together what might have happened decades ago, when Dr. Richard H. Strauss was a team doctor and, according to recent accounts, engaged in some form of sexual misconduct with more than 100 former students.
That misconduct occurred from 1979 to 1997, those former students have said. But Ohio State’s sex abuse crisis and its apparent failure to provide abused athletes with an adequate support system may have extended to more-recent years.
Two Southern California gymnastics coaches continue to work with underage gymnasts even though the sport’s national governing body has suspended them while it conducts investigations into alleged rules violations, the Southern California News Group has learned.
Colden Raisher is coaching at The Klub Gymnastics, a gym club near the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles where the top director was unaware of his suspension by USA Gymnastics on Friday.
Saying, “We may suffer alone, but we survive together,” Aly Raisman and dozens of other victims of disgraced ex-doctor Larry Nassar accepted the Arthur Ashe Courage Award on Wednesday at the 2018 ESPYs. In a powerful display of solidarity, 141 women, on behalf of perhaps hundreds more who were sexually abused over a period of decades, took the stage at the end of the awards ceremony.
A seventh former Ohio State University wrestler said Saturday that he believes Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) knew about inappropriate behavior that allegedly took place in the school’s athletic department three decades ago, as two more former team members came to Jordan’s defense.
David Range, who wrestled for Ohio State in the late 1980s, said Jordan had to have known about alleged sexual misconduct by Richard Strauss, an athletic doctor whose behavior is under investigation by the school, because it happened regularly to team members and people talked about it. Jordan has denied he knew, saw or heard about any inappropriate behavior while he was an assistant wrestling coach from 1987 to 1995.
For decades the sexual abuse of young athletes by their coaches lingered just beneath the surface in American swimming’s otherwise golden waters.
In 2005, USA Swimming president Ron Van Pool decided it was time to bring the issue to the surface.
Giving his annual State of Swimming address, Van Pool pushed for a more aggressive approach within the sport to taking on sexual abuse.
“USA Swimming is frightfully behind the curve in this process and there are those who would have us continue to lag,” Van Pool said.
The speech, however, didn’t make much of an impression with Chuck Wielgus, then in his eighth year as USA Swimming’s executive director.
“There was nothing that struck me,” Wielgus said later in deposition.
Here’s a sample of the kind of comments parents of Larry Nassar’s victims see online these days. Or, for that matter, just overhear at work and the grocery store:
Morgan McCaul and her mother, Deb. "It was unimaginable and hard for me to understand when I first heard it," Deb McCaul says. "Like, how could you have that happen and not know? Until I found out that that happened, and I didn’t know.”
CREDIT COURTESY OF DEB MCCAUL
“Why don’t the parents of the Nassar victims take any responsibility?”
“I wonder how many of those girls complained to their parents, and their parents turned a deaf ear about it.”
“The parents are equally to blame. Should be sharing a cell with Nassar.”
Deb McCaul says on some level, she gets it.
“It was unimaginable and hard for me to understand when I first heard it,” McCaul says. “Like, how could you have that happen and not know? Until I found out that that happened, and I didn’t know.”
NEW YORK — Ariana Kukors was 15 when she first realized her 33-year-old swim coach was interested in more than helping her swim faster, she said, when innocuous text messages about school and weekend plans shifted suddenly with a strange question: He wanted to know if she was wearing underwear.
She was 16 the first time he asked her to text a naked photo, she said, a request she claims she routinely fulfilled. Later that year, in hotel rooms at travel meets and after private workouts before school, her coach started making physical advances that, before Kukors turned 18, included sex acts she summarized as “everything but intercourse.”
I first met Larry Nassar in the late '90s, when I was a student athletic training intern at the University of Washington. With a gymnastics meet in full swing on either side of us, Nassar let me help treat the athletes. He was kind and thoughtful, and explained to me every single thing he was doing as he worked. Even the coaches, ex-gymnasts themselves, would hobble their aching bodies toward Nassar in hope of relief. He was odd and a little dorky, but it was kind of refreshing compared to the ego-driven coaches and doctors I was used to dealing with.
I've spent most of my life in the world of gymnastics; I've competed, I've coached and I've been a fan since my dad took me to see the 1980 Olympic Team tour. The vast majority of my experiences with the sport have been positive. But I'm not naïve, nor was I then, about how cruel that world can be. Nassar seemed like one of the good ones. And everyone I asked said that he was.
The Harvey Weinstein scandal has done more than reveal the culture of sexual abusethat has infected the entertainment industry for generations. It has placed a spotlight on perpetrators and those who protect them using the despicable practice of non-disclosure agreements to intimidate and silence victims.
Throughout the past 25 years I have represented thousands of sexual assault victims in civil lawsuits against their molesters and the institutions that facilitated their abuse. Most of these victims were children at the time they were abused. One thing is common through all these cases, the perpetrators and their accomplices dwarf their victims in wealth and power. Indeed, sexual assault is not about sex, it’s about power.
FORWARD / SEATTLE STORM
I remember what he smelled like.
Cigarettes and dirt. Kind of metallic, too.
He was a construction worker and he smoked. You can’t really wash those smells off.
My family was close. I used to sleep over at relatives’ houses all the time. He lived in one of the houses I slept at the most. There was a big couch in the living room and a smaller loveseat under a window that looked out on the front lawn. I’d stay up late, watching TV on the couch after everyone went to sleep. That’s also where I slept — there wasn’t a guest bed or bedroom. I was a shy nine-year-old, with a long, lanky body and a head that felt too big. I didn’t fit on the loveseat.
I’d flip through the channels, wide-awake, under a big blanket.
I wasn’t always alone. Sometimes there’d be someone else asleep on the loveseat. But I was always the only one awake when it happened.
I’d hear his footsteps coming down the stairs.
Last week, McKayla Maroney tweeted a message with the hashtag #MeToo, alleging she was sexually abused by former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar. With her disclosure, she not only identified herself as one of the more than 140 women who have said they've been abused by Nassar, who has plead guilty to child pornography charges, but she also re-emphasized that the ubiquitous nature of abuse reaches even the highest levels.
Numerous athletes from all types of sports and women working in athletics have joined the #MeToo movement, including another Olympic gold medalist, gymnast Tatiana Gutsu.
Sexual harassment and abuse in sports aren't novel or surprising to most of us inside athletics. But the #MeToo movement, reignited after accusations of sexual harassment against longtime Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, has once again brought to light the constant objectification of women in sports.
Former England boss Graham Taylor was warned about possible sexual abuse of young players during his time as Aston Villa manager but suggested it should be swept "underneath the carpet," a victim has said.
It was claimed in January that Villa sacked scout Ted Langford after learning of the sexual abuse allegations in 1988 but did not alert police.
His father was far away on that chilly April afternoon, so 3-year-old Cullen Gove reached out to him in a video message, texted by the boy’s mother from a Central Massachusetts playground.
“I love you, Daddy,’’ Cullen said. “I miss you. I want you to feel better so you can come home.’’
But by then, his father, David Gove, a former Thayer Academy hockey prodigy who grew up skating on Cape Cod ponds, won a Stanley Cup ring, and until last year was a promising professional head coach, was beyond reach.
Last month, when I was at the 2017 National Championships in Anaheim, I overheard two former national team members talking about how things feel different this year. They were referring to how gymnasts seemed less fearful of speaking publicly about what they had endured during their careers than they had been in years.