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Doctor accused of sex abuse by 2 gymnasts cleared in previous complaint

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(AP) — A doctor accused of sexual abuse by two gymnasts — including a 2000 U.S. Olympian — was investigated by Michigan State University authorities in 2014 over a another allegation of misconduct, but the school found no violation of its policy.

School spokesman Kent Cassella said Tuesday that local prosecutors did not file charges two years ago following an investigation by MSU police.

The revelation of a complaint by the Michigan State graduate comes after two female gymnasts, including a member of the 2000 U.S. Olympic team, said they were sexually abused as teenagers by Larry Nassar, a former longtime doctor for USA Gymnastics.

Nassar is accused of sexually groping and fondling the Olympian during her elite career, according to a lawsuit filed last week in California by the athlete under the name “Jane Doe.”

The second gymnast, Rachael Denhollander of Louisville, Kentucky, told the Indianapolis Star newspaper that Nassar sexually abused her in 2000 while she underwent treatment for lower back pain at Michigan State, where Nassar is a faculty member. She said she filed a complaint last month with university police.

Michigan State temporarily reassigned Nassar, 53, from clinical and patient duties as of Aug. 30, a day after Denhollander’s complaint was made to authorities. Cassella said that was the first time the school was aware of the allegation.

Cassella said the school investigated Nassar previously, however.

“In a separate incident in 2014, MSU authorities investigated a complaint of misconduct against Larry Nassar,” Cassella said in an email. “The complaint, filed by a recent female MSU graduate at the time, involved an allegation of abuse during a medical procedure. An administrative investigation revealed no violation of MSU policy, and the local prosecutor’s office did not file charges after an investigation by MSU police.

“During the investigation, Nassar was temporarily reassigned from his clinical and patient duties.”

Nassar’s attorney, Matthew Borgula, defended the doctor in an email to The Associated Press on Tuesday night.

“MSU and local authorities conducted an investigation and found that there was no violation of law, nor of MSU policy and no lawsuit was ever filed. Dr. Nassar met with authorities at the time and completely cooperated,” Borgula said. “This claim, like the current allegations bantered about in the press, are wholly without merit. Dr. Nassar has never conducted any medical procedure at MSU without the full consent of his patient, and if the patient is a minor, without the parent’s consent.

“He has never been sued, until the recent lawsuit filed in California, and he has never been charged with a crime,” it continued. “He has been a physician for over 23 years, and part of the USA Gymnastics medical team for 29. During that time, no one has ever lodged a complaint against him that he was aware.”

USA Gymnastics released a statement Monday night indicating that it cut ties with Nassar when the organization’s President Steve Penny went to authorities immediately after learning of athlete concerns about Nassar in the summer of 2015.

When asked Tuesday by the AP if it notified Michigan State or other entities affiliated with Nassar about the concerns raised, USA Gymnastics spokesperson Leslie King referred back to the organization’s statement on Monday.

“USA Gymnastics has cooperated fully with the law enforcement agency since we first notified them of the matter, including — at their request — refraining from making further statements or taking any other action that might interfere with the agency’s investigation,” the statement read.

USA Gymnastics has not identified the organization it contacted, also at the request of the law enforcement agency.

USA Gymnastics said Tuesday night it was not contacted about Michigan State’s 2014 investigation of Nassar.

Cassella said the school didn’t consider contacting USA Gymnastics in 2014 because “the administrative investigation revealed no violation of MSU policy” and no charges were filed.

MORE: Two gymnasts allege sex abuse by doctor for USA Gymnastics

Yuzuru Hanyu opens Olympic season with record score

Yuzuru Hanyu
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A sore knee didn’t hold Yuzuru Hanyu back. A record score to open his Olympic season.

The Olympic and world champion from Japan hit a pair of quadruple jumps in his short program at the Autumn Classic, a lower-level event in Montreal.

He was rewarded with 112.72 points, the highest short program score recorded under the 13-year-old judging system. Video is here.

It looked like a home competition for Hanyu.

Upon finishing, he bowed toward one set of bleachers (maybe a dozen rows) at the Sportsplexe Pierrefonds. More than two dozen Japanese flags made it hard to see most of the faces.

He bettered Javier Fernández, a two-time world champion and training partner, by 11.52 points. Fernández also landed two quadruple jumps to tally 101.2.

Full scores will be here upon the conclusion of the short program. The free skate is Saturday at 8 p.m. ET. A live stream is here.

Hanyu now owns the three highest short program scores under the 13-year-old system. The other two were set in the 2015-16 season.

Showdowns like Hanyu-Fernández are usually reserved for, at the earliest, the Grand Prix series in late October and November.

Hanyu and Fernández are very familiar with each other, having shared a coach in Canadian Brian Orser, the 1988 Olympic silver medalist, since 2012. They train in Toronto.

In that time, Hanyu became the first Japanese man to win an Olympic title (and the second teen from any nation to do it). He followed it up with world titles later in 2014 and this year.

Fernández achieved unfathomable success for a Spanish skater — world titles in 2015 and 2016, overtaking Hanyu in the free skate both times.

In PyeongChang, Hanyu can become the first man to repeat as Olympic champion since Dick Button in 1952. Fernández can become the third Spaniard to earn a Winter Olympic medal of any color in any sport, and the first since 1992.

The figure skating season continues next week with Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany, the final Olympic qualifying competition. North Korea could clinch its first spots in any sport for the Olympics in the pairs event.

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USOC letter assures Olympians about South Korea security

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The U.S. Olympic Committee’s security chief sent a letter to potential Winter Olympians saying there are no indications that recent developments between the U.S. and North Korea have compromised security in South Korea.

The letter, obtained by The Associated Press shortly after it was sent Friday, makes no suggestion that the U.S. is considering skipping the PyeongChang Winter Games for security reasons.

But Chief Security Officer Nicole Deal does write that provocations that have been volleyed between the United States and North Korea are likely to persist for the foreseeable future, and “should not be dismissed as insignificant nor feared as precursors of an inevitable conflict.”

The letter comes at the end of a week in which France’s sports minister suggested the country’s athletes would stay home if security could not be guaranteed.

The International Olympic Committee, trying to calm concerns, reiterated that in conversations with high-level officials in China and South Korea, none have expressed doubt about the Winter Games proceeding as scheduled, next February.

The USOC also sent out a public statement Friday from CEO Scott Blackmun.

“We will continue to work with our State Department and local organizers to ensure that our athletes, and our entire delegation, are safe,” he said.

The letter, sent to athletes, national governing bodies and other Olympic leaders in the United States, said the USOC’s security division is operating as “business as usual for our security planning and preparations.”

Deal writes that the USOC is reviewing crisis management plans that address a range of potential scenarios “to ensure our athletes, and our entire delegation, are safe.”

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