Sexual Abuse Suit Brought by 18 Athletes Names MSU and USA Gymnastics as Defendants

Eighteen women have filed suit naming Michigan State University, USA Gymnastics, and the Twistars gymnastics group as defendants with regard to the actions of Dr. Larry Nassar, an elite orthopedic doctor who allegedly sexually assaulted several women over the course of twenty years in the guise of medical treatment. Specifically, the suit alleges that by ignoring the women’s persistent claims, MSU, USA Gymnastics, and Twistars effectively perpetuated the abuse perpetrated by Nassar for two decades.

Twistar’s owner, John Geddert, chose not to take action after he received a sexual abuse complaint regarding Dr. Nassar in 1997. In addition, complaints of abuse were brought to MSU’s attention as far back as 1999, but the university failed to take any steps to remedy the problem. Its eventual investigation in 2014 of new complaints resulted in the school telling the complainants that they misunderstood the “nuanced difference” between appropriate medical procedures and sexual assault.

One of the victims, former gymnast Rachael Denhollander, is the only plaintiff to use her real name in the suit. She maintains that Nassar touched her inappropriately on five separate occasions while seeking treatment for wrist and back injuries when she was just 15, but had not come forward until recently because of her naïve trust in the doctor’s reputation and in the MSU and gymnastic communities.

Nassar had already been arrested and charged in state court with three counts of criminal sexual conduct with a person under 13, and in federal court for receipt, attempted receipt, and possession of child pornography. The FBI has discovered over 37,000 videos and images of child pornography on hard drives found on Nassar’s property, along with videos depicting Nassar assaulting young girls in a pool. Nassar is being detained without bond.

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