“You Compare It to a Cult,” say survivors of sex abuse in the United States.
Two former Olympic gymnasts who endured sexual abuse at the hands of a Team USA doctor are condemning the institutions they claim were complicit just days before the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics begin.
Larry Nassar, a former USA Gymnastics doctor, has hundreds of known victims, including Sarah Klein and Amanda Smith. He is serving life sentences in federal and state prisons for sexual assaulting young women and adolescents, including molesting female gymnasts under his care.
Klein and Smith, who are now both moms, spoke with Zenger about how prominent people and institutions normalized and facilitated Nassar’s actions to the point where Klein was unaware he was assaulting her.
“You’re comparing it to a cult. You don’t know anything else than what you’ve known since childhood, before your brain has fully developed naturally. Klein, the first known survivor of Nassar’s assault, said, “You just believe that’s how they do it here, and your red flags don’t get up.”
The Arthur Ashe Courage Award was given to Klein and 140 other women during the 2018 ESPYs.
“Another thing is that I adored this guy [Nassar].” She described him as “the nicest aspect of the entire gymnastics experience.” “It’s a cruel, unforgiving world that thrives on pulling you down and terrifying you. It’s founded on a lot of dread. Then you proceed to the back room, where you meet this sweet, nerdy, warm doctor who claims he’ll help you. That sounds fantastic. And you’re a kid, so you have no idea what’s going on.”
She stated, “It’s sort of the perfect storm for a serial pedophile to get away with it for three decades like Nassar did.”
Smith began receiving abuse when she was nine years old, while training at the Twistars competitive gymnastics gym in the early 2000s. Nassar’s main facilitator, according to her, was John Geddert, who coached the gold medal-winning US women’s gymnastics team at the 2012 London Olympics. Geddert committed suicide in February after being charged with enough counts of human trafficking and sexual assault by prosecutors that he would face life in prison if convicted.
Nassar had a quarter-century professional and social relationship with Geddert, who employed him at two gyms he owned. The two collaborated on the 2012 Olympic Games. This is a condensed version of the information.