Group urges Texas AG to take action against Karolyis over Nassar abuse
AUSTIN, Texas – Victims of Larry Nassar and their attorneys are expected to call on Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to take action against the Karolyi family, who ran the ranch where Olympic gymnasts trained.
The Karolyi Ranch served as the training facility for national and Olympic gymnasts for more than 30 years.
The facility was shuttered after Nassar, who served as the team’s doctor, was sentenced to up to 275 years in prison for sexually assaulting minors. He has been accused of molesting more than 250 people over the course of nearly 30 years.
The group held a news conference in Austin to discuss their claims that the Karolyis knew about Nassar’s abuse but did not report it to authorities.
"Texas hasn't received the coverage that the case has in Michigan just by way of covering this there is over 320 victims that have come forward and either filed police reports or lawsuits against Larry Nassar," said attorney John Manly who represents 180 survivors of alleged abuse.
Attending the news conference outside the office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton were Jamie Dantzscher, a 2000 Olympic bronze medalist, allegedly molested by Larry Nassar at the Karolyi Ranch.
"I can't believe this isn't being taken seriously in Texas," Dantzscher said. "How many little girls does it take to take sexual abuse seriously."
Dantzscher stood among others like Lindsey Lemke, a current MSU student and gymnast allegedly abused by Nassar more than 500 times at MSU Clinic and even Nassar's home.
"We have ladies in their 30s. We have one who is a mom with a child; we have a 16-year-old -- a near 20-year difference from when they were abused, and if that doesn't speak volumes to people, I don't know what does," Lemke said. "And throughout that period of time there were so many cries for help and so many little girls that didn't know what to do, didn't know how to go about what was happening, being uncomfortable and they cried out for help and nothing happened."
Attorney John Manly cited a 2017 deposition where he asked Martha Karolyi under oath whether or not she was warned of Nassar's abuse by the USAG president around June of 2015.
The victims standing outside Paxton's office were allegedly abused at the ranch or after that summer.
"Larry probably would have never touched me if the adults did their job," said Autumn Blaney, a 16-year-old high school student. "It is incredibly unfair that Martha didn't do her job to protect me."
Blaney was referred to Nassar by Twistars coach John Geddert and was allegedly assaulted more than 75 times at Twistars, the MSU Clinic and Nassar’s home at ages 10-14 years old.
The Karolyi's lawyer later said that Martha Karolyi had misspoke during that deposition.
"Mr. Jewell's statement is a desperate attempt to explain that he got caught and Mrs. Karolyi got caught in a big fat lie. Mrs. Karolyi knew in June of 2015 that Mrs. Karolyi had abused little girls. The law in Texas required her to immediately call police and Child Protective Services and report--and she didn't."
Kayla Spicher was a USAG gymnast and now a gymnastics coach who was allegedly abused more than 360 times.
"We were let down by not one, not two, but multiple adults who failed to do not just the right thing -- but as a professional figure in the sports of gymnastics," Spicher said.
The Walker County Sheriff's Office said that it is "actively investigating" the case, but has not had any updates since February. They said Texas Rangers are investigating.
Attorneys said that the Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton could do more to help keep alleged enablers accountable.
"We know that one of the initial reports was made to the federal government, it makes sense that the head attorney of the state of Texas would be involved in this...or provide resources...and we haven't heard of anything like this," said victims' lawyer Michelle Tuegel.
Marc Rylander, Paxton's spokesman, issued a statement, saying the attorney general has not been asked to join the investigation and he is confident the Texas Rangers, who were ordered to investigate the ranch in January, will complete a thorough investigation.
Rylander's full statement follows:
“At this time, the Office of the Attorney General has received no formal appointment or request to join this investigation, which is outside of our jurisdiction. We are confident that the Texas Rangers, in coordination with the Walker County District Attorney and Walker County Sheriff’s Office, will complete a thorough investigation that will achieve justice for the victims of these alleged crimes. If requested by the local DA or law enforcement officers currently working this investigation, our office will gladly and immediately assist with this investigation and prosecution.”
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