Elite gymnast Maggie Nichols revealed Tuesday that she is “Athlete A” — the first to report sexual abuse by team doctor Larry Nassar to USA Gymnastics — and blasted the organization for not doing more to stop him from assaulting more young women.
Nichols, who was a top contender for the 2016 Olympic team before an injury, said the abuse and Nassar’s grooming of her began when she was 15 years old and experiencing back problems during a training camp at the famed Karolyi Ranch.
“I trusted what he was doing at first, but then he started touching me in places I really didn’t think he should. He didn’t have gloves on and he didn’t tell me what he was doing. There was no one else in the room and I accepted what he was doing because I was told by adults that he was the best doctor and he could help relieve my pain,” Nichols said in a statement.
“He did this ‘treatment’ on me, on numerous occasions. Not only was Larry Nassar my doctor, I thought he was my friend. He contacted me on Facebook complimenting me and telling me how beautiful I looked on numerous occasions. But I was only 15 and I just thought he was trying to be nice to me.”
In the summer of 2015, Nichols mentioned Nassar’s conduct to another gymnast. Her coach overheard her and questioned her about it — and then reported it to USA Gymnastics, the national governing body for the sport and the selector of the Olympic team.
USA Gymnastics hired a private investigator to look into the allegations, but it took three weeks for them to interview Nichols. And it wasn’t until Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney also confirmed abuse by Nassar that the organization called the FBI, five weeks after Nichols’ report.
Nassar was fired, but put out a statement saying he was retiring that went uncorrected by USA Gymnastics, Nichols’ attorney, John Manly, pointed out. And USA Gymnastics did not notify the U.S. Olympic Committee or Michigan State University, where Nassar had his practice, that he was suspected of sexual abuse.
SOURCE: TRACY CONNOR and SARAH FITZPATRICK