North Texas gymnastics legend Carly Patterson is talking for the first time about the sexual abuse scandal at USA Gymnastics. Patterson won the all-around gold medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. For nearly five years, Patterson was in the care of Dr. Larry Nassar, who’s now in prison for molesting hundreds of young athletes.
Patterson told NBC 5 Nassar never victimized her. “Larry never harmed me, never touched me inappropriately. Thank God,” she said. But Patterson now wonders about the dangerous environment. “The one thing that makes me look back and kind of question something now, and maybe question if I was being groomed to be a victim I guess you could say, was he did come into our rooms.”
We know now that Nassar was abusing young gymnasts and other athletes. “No one said anything,” Patterson said. “I never heard one word about Larry or that anything was inappropriately being done to any of my teammates.”
Among those who testified at Nassar’s recent trial in Michigan were Patterson’s friends, former teammates and role models. “I absolutely believe them. Absolutely. One-hundred percent. Larry is obviously a very sick man,” Patterson said. “I felt sick to my stomach watching each of the girls, one after the other with no end in sight.”
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Nassar was convicted and will spend the rest of his life in prison. “I think he probably deserves more than life in prison. I’ll just leave it at that,” Patterson said.
Since Nassar’s trial, several gymnasts have stepped forward with stories of alleged abuse at the famed Karolyi Ranch training camp outside Houston. Patterson spent time there for years. “I never personally felt unsafe at the Ranch,” Patterson said.
However, many gymnasts say Nassar abused them there. They also accuse the Ranch’s founders, Bela and Martha Karolyi, of turning a blind eye to Nassar’s abuse. The Karolyis strongly deny the accusations. Patterson says she supports calls for more investigation. “No stone needs to be left unturned in this situation,” she said.
Patterson hopes USA Gymnastics can recover. “There needs to be complete one-hundred percent honesty. There needs to be accountability for everything that’s happened, and we need to see a one-hundred percent turnaround in our sport.”
And as a new mother herself, Patterson wants to make sure nothing like the scandal that has rocked her sport to the core ever happens again. “Being a parent now, it absolutely hits me harder than I think it would have if I didn’t have my son. And to think if that were my kids, it would be awful.”