Longtime USA Gymnastics national team director Martha Karolyi said in a 2017 deposition that she was first informed in June 2015 of allegations that former team physician Larry Nassar had molested gymnasts at their training ranch in Texas, the Orange County Register reported on Thursday.
This directly contradicts what Martha and her husband Bela — whose Texas ranch served as a team training center since 1999 — said in a recent lawsuit against USA Gymnastics. The couple claimed in the lawsuit that they didn’t learn about these allegations against Nassar until after the 2016 Olympics.
However, the May 2017 deposition tells a different story. Martha said in the deposition that USA Gymnastics chief executive Steve Penny informed her of the sexual misconduct allegations by Nassar in June 2015.
From the OC Register:
“Were you ever advised by any USAG official in or around June of 2015 that they had received a complaint that Dr. Nassar had molested a national team gymnast at The Ranch?” Karolyi was asked in the deposition.
“Yes, I did,” she responded.
“And who-who reported that to you, ma’am?”
“Mr. Penny,” Karolyi said.
“Okay. Did he call you on the phone?”
“When Mr. Penny told you that, did you make any report to anyone else?” Karolyi was asked.
Before Karolyi could respond her attorney, Gary Jewell objected.
“Mrs. Karolyi, were you concerned at all — when you spoke to Mr. Penny, did he express concern that (Nassar) may have done this to other gymnasts since your time as national team coordinator?” an attorney for the former gymnast asked.
Again Jewell objected and Karolyi did not answer.
Nassar retired from his job as the national team doctor in September 2015, almost a year before the Indianapolis Star published its initial investigation into Nassar and USA Gymnastics. Nassar was sentenced to prison earlier this year for sexually abusing more than 260 women and girls, much of which took place on the Karolyi ranch.
The couple filed the lawsuit against USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic Committee last month, alleging a breach of contract, negligence and seeking not to be held responsible for lawsuits stemming from Nassar’s abuse, per the OC Register.
The Karolyis claim in the lawsuit that they “would have reported such conduct had they learned of it or had their been suspicion,” and even went on NBC News in April, where they said this “whole thing is just like an explosion, a bomb exploding.”
“If you couldn’t suspect anything — 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 said. “How I could see?”
Martha did back up her claims in the deposition, where she insisted that she didn’t know about Nassar’s abuse while it was going on at her ranch, and that she didn’t see it going on.
From the OC Register:
At one point in the deposition, Karolyi was asked who was in charge of the gymnasts’ welfare. Her attorney objected.
Karolyi, however, made it clear that despite her position or the fact she and her husband owned the ranch that she didn’t think the responsibility was hers.
“What I’m saying that I was in charge of the preparation of the gymnasts,” she said. “And my duty was to make sure they kept those routines and when they train well.”
Karolyi was asked in the deposition if she ever saw Nassar treat a gymnast in the (activity) room who was “face down where they’d be disrobed below the waist and a towel over their buttocks? Did you ever see that?”
“I didn’t,” she replied.
“Okay,” the attorney said.
“I don’t recall seeing that, but — oh, no,” Karolyi continued.
“Okay,” the attorney said again.
“I don’t think so,” Karolyi said.
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