Former USA gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar may be spending several lifetimes behind bars, but the quest to understand how his abuse continued undetected for decades is far from over.
Most recently, Gov. Greg Abbott asked the state police division, the Texas Rangers, to investigate famed USA gymnastics training center, Karolyi Ranch, in Huntsville, Texas after several of Nassar victims alleged abuse at the facilities.
During Nassar’s trial, several survivors who testified also accused the ranch’s owners, Bela and Marta Karolyi, of physically abusing the gymnasts, while ignoring Nassar’s abuse in return. Gymnast Mattie Larson said Nassar had molested her and other gymnasts while at the ranch.
“There is an eerie feeling as soon as you step foot onto the Karolyi Ranch,” Larson said during Nassar's sentencing hearing last week. “It is completely removed from all civilization. In the case of an emergency, the closest hospital is so far away you need to be helicoptered there. To get to the ranch, you must drive up a dirt road and the closest sign of civilization is a high-security prison 30 miles away.”
In a statement announcing the investigation into the ranch on Tuesday, Gov. Abbott called the athletes’ statements “gut-wrenching” and “deeply disturbing.”
While we don’t know how long the investigation will last or what will come of it, one fact remains crystal clear: how Nassar managed decades of sexual abuse will continue to unravel.
Nassar returns to court
After being sentenced up to 175 years in prison last week, Nassar returns to court on Wednesday for his third and final criminal sentencing for sexual abuse in Eaton County, where 57 survivors are expected to speak. More than 160 victims came forward to allege abuse, including molestation and exposing his genitals, during last week’s trial.
“There is an eerie feeling as soon as you step foot onto the Karolyi Ranch."
Back in December, Nassar had already been sentenced 60 years in federal prison for collecting 37,000 images and videos of child pornography. That brings his total time behind bars to up to 235 years.
Nassar’s prosecution, however, is just one part of a long investigation into the institutions that allegedly protected him.
“Bigger than Larry Nassar”
At the center of the controversy lies how Nassar’s abuse could have carried on undetected for so long and what USA Gymnastics did or failed to do to stop his misconduct.
"We need to hold these organizations accountable — USA Gymnastics, United States Olympic Committee, Michigan State University (MSU). They need an independent investigation. This is bigger than Larry Nassar," Olympic champion Aly Raisman told NBC’s Today Show.
The United States Olympic Committee has already launched an independent, third-party-led investigation into the abuse and said the results would be made public. By last Friday, all board members had resigned after the U.S. Olympic Committee threatened to decertify the program.
Ongoing investigations at MSU
MSU, where Nassar had his medical practice, has also repeatedly come under fire for its role, and the NCAA formally launched an investigation into its knowledge of Nassar’s serial abuse on Jan 23.
A day after the university president Lou Anna K. Simon resigned, Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan also requested a formal investigation into how the school dealt with the case.
MSU has faced investigations by the FBI and its own police department before, but those investigations didn’t result in criminal charges.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette told reporters Saturday that his department “will find out who knew what and when, who took action, who failed to take action, what did or did not happen, and what should have happened.”
“No individual and no department at Michigan State University is off-limits,” Schuette said.