Karolyis say they knew nothing of gymnastics sex abuse

Source CNN

Bela and Martha Karolyi, the former coordinators and coaches of the United States girls's gymnastics team, claimed that they weren't aware of the prevalent sexual abuse of gymnasts by Lawrence G. Nassar, " the former team doctor.

Gymnastics icons Martha and Bela Karolyi were unaware of the decades-long abusive behavior of former national team doctor Larry Nassar, the coaches said in a new interview.

Bela Karolyi coached U.S. gymnast Mary Lou Retton to 1984 Los Angeles Olympic gold only three years after defecting from Romania to the United States. She tells Savannah Guthrie in "no way" did she suspect Larry Nassar was sexually abusing athletes.

The Karolyis, both 75, spoke with NBC for a "Dateline NBC" special to be broadcast Sunday. The one-hour special, the first prime-time event hosted by Guthrie, takes a look at the fallout from revelations about years of abuse by Nassar involving hundreds of former athletes, including several members of the U.S. Olympic team.

Nassar was already established in the program when Martha Karolyi took over. "How I could see?"

Nassar is serving a life sentence after almost 200 victims testified that he sexually abused them over decades, a scandal that shook the gymnastics world and prompted a series of civil investigations into the sport and the U.S. Olympic Committee.

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"The whole thing is just like an explosion, a bomb exploding - Boom", he said.

While it's still unclear whether the Karolyis knew of Nassar's abuse, dozens of athletes allege other forms of abuse took place at the ranch including verbal and emotional abuse, and limiting food intake of athletes during arduous training sessions. The Karolyis made similar statements in a deposition in Larson's lawsuit. Many also pointed to the institutional giants Nassar worked for, including USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University, as the reason many parents blindly trusted him.

The Star's bombshell investigation into the national governing body's practices in reporting child abuse was triggered by the lawsuit, filed by a former gymnast whose coach secretly videotaped her undressed.

In an interview with the US Olympic telecasting network, the Romanian-born US couple said there was no way they could have known Nassar was molesting gymnasts.

Martha Karolyi denied having any knowledge about Nassars pattern of abuse. "But I would say even if they have big names or they have no names, any child who was violated by Nassar, it's a crime and it's so sad". "And the parents couldn't see".

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