gymnastics

AP

Ex-USA Gymnastics doctor to stand trial on sex assault charges

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MASON, Mich. (AP) — A judge on Friday ordered a longtime doctor at Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics to stand trial on charges of sexually assaulting six young gymnasts who said he molested them while they were seeking treatment for various injuries.

Judge Donald Allen Jr. made his decision after hearing testimony from the alleged victims over two days and watching a campus police interview of Dr. Larry Nassar.

It is one of four Michigan criminal cases against Nassar following reports last year in the Indianapolis Star about how USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians, mishandled complaints about sexual misconduct involving the doctor and coaches. Women and girls said the stories inspired them to step forward with detailed allegations of abuse, sometimes when their parents were in the exam room at Michigan State.

“He convinced these girls that this was some type of legitimate treatment,” Assistant Attorney General Angela Poviliatis told the judge. “Why would they question him? Why would they question this gymnastics god?”

Nassar didn’t testify nor did his lawyers offer an argument against sending the case to trial. The legal threshold in Michigan is probable cause, a low standard at the initial stages of a criminal case.

The final evidence Friday was a video of Nassar’s 40-minute interview last August with a Michigan State police detective, who was investigating a complaint from a former gymnast, now in her 30s. He was not under arrest and spoke voluntarily.

Nassar denied any inappropriate contact and said he got no sexual pleasure from treating gymnasts. He said if he had an erection, as a gymnast claimed, “that’s rather embarrassing.”

The camera was above Nassar’s head. He repeatedly moved his arms and hands as he explained his techniques, using phrases such as “lift and shift” and “tissue tension” to describe treatments for back and hip injuries. He sighed, scratched his forehead and appeared frustrated with the allegations against him.

“I’m trying my best to help the patient. I’m trying to get real-time feedback. I don’t want to hurt someone,” Nassar told Det. Sgt. Andrea Munford.

The judge watched the video and later noted that Nassar had put his fingers in a position that matched the testimony of one of the alleged victims, who said the doctor had penetrated her with his hands in 2000.

“Every victim who testified was unambiguous” about being molested, Poviliatis said. “They were clear and consistent and precise.”

Outside of the criminal cases, Nassar and Michigan State are being sued by dozens of women and girls. Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics also is a defendant in some of the lawsuits.

Nassar will appear in court in Eaton County next Friday on assault charges involving two more gymnasts. He’s separately charged in federal court in Grand Rapids with possessing child pornography.

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Watch world’s oldest gymnast compete at age 91

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Johanna Quaas was certified as the Guinness World Record holder nearly five years ago, and the world’s oldest gymnast is still going strong.

The 91-year-old German competed at the International German Gymnastics Festival in Berlin earlier this month.

“My face is old, but my heart is young,” Quaas said in April, according to the Straits Times. “Maybe the day I stop doing gymnastics is the day I die.”

Quaas first competed in gymnastics in 1934, then became a coach and a physical education teacher. She took a number of years off before returning to training in 1982 after having three daughters and has since become a great-grandmother, according to reports.

Quaas gained viral fame in 2012, when YouTube videos of her routines were posted that have since gained some 10 million views.

“My proudest moment so far was when I was 84 years old and there was no one in my age group competing in the championships,” Quaas said, according to the Straits Times. “So they put me with the others in the 70-75 age group and I still won by one point.”

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Jonathan Horton announces retirement after ‘Ninja Warrior’ appearance

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Two-time Olympic medalist Jonathan Horton announced his retirement from gymnastics Monday night, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Horton, 31, missed much of the Rio Olympic cycle due to shoulder surgeries and a torn pectoral muscle, the former ultimately derailing his bid to make a third Olympic team.

“I was hurt every single year for six years after never being hurt once,” Horton said at a watch party for his “American Ninja Warrior” appearance Monday, according to the newspaper. “It was a matter of my body telling me that we need to be done.”

Horton, at 5 feet, 1 inch, succeeded 2004 Olympic all-around champion Paul Hamm as the star of U.S. men’s gymnastics.

He led a depleted American team to bronze at the 2008 Beijing Games and tacked on a high bar silver, missing gold by .025.

Horton added a world all-around bronze medal in 2010, plus all-around titles at the 2008 Olympic Trials and 2009 and 2010 U.S. Championships.

“I would love to have won a gold medal, but I’m proud of what I was able to accomplish,” Horton said, according to the newspaper. “I left nothing out there. I gave it all I had, and I don’t live my life by regrets.”

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