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Olympian Tasha Schwikert says she is a Larry Nassar survivor, speaks out on Steve Penny

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Tasha Schwikert is at least the ninth Olympian to come forward as a Larry Nassar survivor.

“After months of grappling with the decision, I have decided to come forward as a victim of Larry Nassar,” was tweeted from the 2000 Olympic bronze medalist Schwikert’s account. “I want to join my former teammates and fellow survivors to help enact REAL change at @USAGym and @TeamUSA. #MeToo.

“I refuse to remain a victim. It is time for @USAGym and @TeamUSA to come clean and be held accountable for the toxic environment that enabled Nassar’s abuse. Only then will we see REAL change.”

Schwikert, now 33, was the youngest woman on the 2000 Olympic team across all sports, the U.S. all-around champion in 2001 and 2002, the 2003 World champion team captain and an alternate for the 2004 Olympic team.

Schwikert also said that ex-USA Gymnastics president and CEO Steve Penny pressed her to publicly support USA Gymnastics at the height of the Nassar scandal, according to ABC’s “World News Tonight.”

Penny was arrested Wednesday and indicted on charges he tampered with evidence in the Nassar sexual-assault investigation and on Thursday banned for life from USA Gymnastics. Penny’s lawyers said he is “confident that when all the facts are known it will be shown that he did nothing criminal.”

“Steve had always manipulated all of us, really, but I felt indebted to him,” Schwikert said on ABC. “Him and USA Gymnastics made me feel like if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be the person or the athlete who I was.”

She is at least the second member of the Sydney 2000 team to come forward as a Nassar survivor, joining Jamie Dantzscher, the first Olympian to do so in February 2017.

USA Gymnastics posted a statement from Schwikert on social media the night Dantzscher’s first interview aired, saying, “As a member of the national team from 1999-2004, I firmly believe USA Gymnastics always had my health and well-being top of mind. The program provided me with the resources and experiences that helped me achieve my goals.”

Penny resigned a month later.

Seven of the eight members of the 2012 or 2016 Olympic women’s artistic gymnastics teams have also come forward — Simone BilesGabby Douglas, Aly RaismanMcKayla MaroneyJordyn WieberKyla Ross and Madison Kocian. As have world championships team members among the hundreds of girls and women who said Nassar sexually abused them under the guise of medical treatment when he worked for Michigan State and USA Gymnastics.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Steve Penny, ex-USA Gymnastics president, arrested on charge of tampering with Larry Nassar evidence

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HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — Former USA Gymnastics president Steve Penny was arrested Wednesday after a Texas grand jury indicted him, alleging he tampered with evidence in the sexual assault investigation of now-imprisoned gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.

In a statement issued late Wednesday night, the Walker County district attorney’s office in Huntsville, Texas, said Penny was arrested by a fugitive task force in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and awaits extradition to Texas.

The third-degree felony is punishable by two to 10 years in prison. It was unclear if Penny has an attorney. Messages left with USA Gymnastics weren’t immediately returned.

Penny resigned under pressure in March 2017.

The indictment alleges Penny ordered the removal of documents from the Karolyi Ranch relating to Nassar’s activities at the ranch, near Huntsville. It alleges Penny acted after learning that Texas Rangers and Walker County authorities were investigating the ranch, which was being managed by USA Gymnastics.

The indictment states the documents were delivered to Penny at the USA Gymnastics headquarters in Indianapolis, they have not been recovered and their whereabouts are unknown to authorities.

Penny was arrested arrested when a team of armed Marshalls arrived at a Tennessee vacation cabin while he was sitting with his wife and three children.

“When he went to Tennessee on a vacation with his family, Mr. Penny had no knowledge there had been an indictment in Texas,” his lawyers said in a statement. “Mr. Penny is confident that when all the facts are known it will be shown that he did nothing criminal.”

Nassar was charged in June with sexually assaulting six minors in Walker County. A former sports medicine trainer, Debra Van Horn, was also indicted on one count of second-degree sexual assault of a child. Prosecutors said Van Horn was charged as “acting as a party” with Nassar.

In Michigan, Nassar was sentenced earlier this year to decades in prison, after hundreds of women and girls accused him of molesting them with his hands under the guise of medical treatment. They said the abuse went as far back as the 1990s while he worked at Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians.

Nassar was a former team doctor for both the women’s program at USA Gymnastics as well as Michigan State University athletics.

In Texas, a number of gymnasts who had trained at the Karolyi Ranch have said Nassar sexually assaulted them there. Walker County prosecutors have said there is no corroborated evidence of wrongdoing by world-renowned gymnastics coaches Bela and Martha Karolyi, and the couple has denied wrongdoing.

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FBI handling of Larry Nassar allegations reviewed by Justice Department

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department’s inspector general is investigating how the FBI handled sexual abuse allegations against former USA Gymnastics national team doctor Larry Nassar, a person familiar with the matter said Wednesday.

The investigation comes amid allegations that the FBI had failed to promptly address complaints made in 2015 against the once-renowned gymnastics doctor. Nassar is now serving decades in prison after hundreds of girls and women said he sexually abused them under the guise of medical treatment when he worked for Michigan State and Indiana-based USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians.

USA Gymnastics contacted the FBI about the allegations in July 2015, but it took months before the agency opened a formal investigation. At least 40 girls and women said they were molested over a 14-month period while the FBI was aware of other sexual abuse allegations involving Nassar.

Nassar was ultimately charged in 2016 with federal child porn offenses and sexual abuse charges in Michigan.

In the last month, investigators from the inspector general’s office have contacted some of the victims whose cases had been reported to the FBI, including former Olympian McKayla Maroney, according to the person familiar with the matter who wasn’t authorized to discuss the situation publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

The FBI and federal prosecutors in Michigan, Los Angeles and Indianapolis have refused to meet with Maroney and her attorneys to explain why it took months for federal agents to open an investigation, her lawyer, John Manly, said.

He alleges the FBI “concealed” what they knew about Nassar by failing to notify local authorities in Michigan or contacting the medical board. Manly and several other victims Manly represents are “horrified” that dozens of other girls and women were abused after the FBI was told about the allegations, he said.

“They deserved better than what they got,” Manly said.

USA Gymnastics president Kerry Perry resigned earlier this week and was the latest person to face fallout in the wake of the Nassar allegations. Numerous other people have been criminally charged, fired or forced out of their jobs during the investigations into Nassar.

The FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment and a spokesman for the Justice Department’s inspector general declined to comment on Wednesday.

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