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18 females sue ex-USA Gymnastics doctor, allege sexual abuse

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DETROIT (AP) — A Michigan doctor accused of sexually abusing gymnasts was sued Tuesday by 18 women and girls, the latest legal action over alleged assaults, mostly at his clinic at Michigan State University.

The lawsuit against Dr. Larry Nassar, Michigan State, USA Gymnastics and a Lansing-area gymnastics club was filed in federal court in western Michigan. It makes claims of civil rights violations, discrimination and negligence.

The Associated Press usually doesn’t name people who allege sexual abuse, but one of the plaintiffs, Rachael Denhollander, 32, of Louisville, Kentucky, talked publicly about the lawsuit. She said she was assaulted by Nassar while seeing him for wrist and back injuries at age 15 in 2000.

Denhollander, who was a gymnast, said she didn’t file a complaint at the time because she believed her “voice would not be heard.” She said Nassar was held in high esteem at Michigan State and was also affiliated with USA Gymnastics.

The abuse alleged by the 18 women and girls occurred over 20 years. They ranged in age from 9 to 29 at the time.

Most were minors “cloaked with innocence and trust of their youth,” attorney Stephen Drew told reporters.

In 1999 and 2000, a Michigan State runner and a softball player complained to the university’s sports medicine staff that Nassar had molested them with his hands, but no investigations were conducted, according to the lawsuit.

Nassar now faces at least five civil lawsuits. Through lawyers, he’s denied the allegations. He hasn’t been charged with any crimes related to his work at Michigan State, although he’s charged with sexually assaulting a girl at his Holt, Michigan, home.

Separately, Nassar is charged in federal court with possessing child pornography. He’s being held in jail without bond.

Michigan State said it won’t comment on specific allegations in the latest lawsuit. It said campus police investigated a complaint against Nassar in 2014 but no charges were filed. The school said it received no other complaints until last August.

Nassar was subsequently fired for not complying with employment requirements put in place after the 2014 complaint. Michigan State hasn’t elaborated.

Campus police still are investigating Nassar with state and federal authorities. Outside lawyers also are advising the university on an internal review of his work.

Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics said it cut ties with Nassar in 2015 when it first heard allegations about the doctor.

“We find it appalling that anyone would exploit a young athlete or child in this manner,” the organization said in a statement.

USOC expects to discuss possible Winter Olympic bid

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PARK CITY, Utah — USOC leaders are expected to discuss a possible Winter Olympic bid as early as next month.

The U.S. could bid for the 2026 or 2030 Winter Olympics. USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said it would be more difficult to bid for 2026 with the 2028 Summer Games set for Los Angeles.

Salt Lake City, Denver, Reno-Tahoe and other cities have expressed interest in bidding, Blackmun said Monday.

The USOC executive board meets Oct. 13. USOC chairman Larry Probst said they “need to talk about” a possible Winter Olympic bid and whether it could be for 2026 or 2030 or later down the line.

The USOC has focused on Summer Olympic bids since 2003. It was officially awarded the 2028 Olympics 12 days ago.

Blackmun added Monday that he hopes multiple U.S. cities could participate in the IOC’s invitational phase for possible bids over the next year. That phase is for cities to receive feedback before formally deciding to put forward a bid.

IOC members are expected to vote in 2019 to determine the 2026 Winter Olympic host.

Sion, Switzerland, is the only city to confirm bid plans.

Probst, an IOC member, also expects Innsbruck, Austria, to bid to become the first city to host the Winter Olympics three times. A public vote for a possible Innsbruck bid to move forward is scheduled for Oct. 15.

Calgary and Stockholm could also bid.

I think [IOC president] Thomas Bach has publicly stated that he would like to see the Winter Games return to a more traditional location,” Probst said. “So, to me, that’s code for Europe or North America. … We’ll have to monitor that, see what the situation looks like and then develop our strategy for whether we’re going to bid for the next Winter Games or longer than that.”

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MORE: Austria looks into multi-country 2026 Winter Olympic bid

USOC supports athletes expressing themselves after anthem protests

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PARK CITY, Utah — The U.S. Olympic Committee supports American athletes expressing themselves at winter sports events leading up to the PyeongChang Olympics.

Some MLB, NFL and WNBA players kneeled and remained in locker rooms during the national anthem at games over the weekend.

USOC CEO Scott Blackmun was asked Monday if the USOC would support American athletes peacefully protesting during the national anthem this fall and winter.

“I think the athletes that you see protesting are protesting because they love their country, not because they don’t,” Blackmun said at a pre-Winter Games media summit. “We fully support the right of our athletes and everybody else to express themselves. The Olympic Games themselves, there is a prohibition on all forms of demonstrations, political or otherwise. And that applies no matter what side of the issue you’re taking, no matter where you’re from. … But we certainly recognize the importance of athletes being able to express themselves.”

Blackmun mentioned Tommie Smith and John Carlos‘ raised-fist salute at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. The USOC has honored Smith and Carlos. They visited the White House last year with the Rio Olympic team.

“That was a seminal moment not only for the Olympic Movement, but for the U.S. Olympic team,” Blackmun said of the 1968 podium gesture. “Our stance on this has been fairly clear. We certainly recognize the rights of the athletes to express themselves.”

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