Former Team USA gymnasts Jeanette Antolin and Jessica Howard are among more than 50 women to accuse former Olympic team doctor Lawrence “Larry” Nassar of sexual abuse.
Howard, 33, and Antolin, 35, spoke out about their accusations during an interview with CBS’ 60 Minutes.
Nassar, who was also a member of the Michigan State University faculty and athletic department and worked with a youth gymnastics school, was accused publicly of sexual abuse by two former gymnasts in September. Dozens more women followed. Nassar was arrested on state sexual assault charges by police in Michigan and also faces several civil lawsuits. Civil proceedings have also been brought against Michigan State, USA Gymnastics and several of its employees, including former team coordinators Bela and Martha Karolyi.
The 53-year-old Michigan resident has denied any wrongdoing. His attorney has said the claims of sexual abuse and assault are the result of misinterpretations of his treatments. He is currently being held in jail.
Attorney John Manly, who is representing Howard and Antolin, told 60 Minutes he believes many more women were abused by Lawrence Nassar, saying he thinks the abuse has been ongoing for more than 20 years.
“We know that at least 60 have come forward, but my best estimate is it’s in the hundreds and possibly more,” he told 60 Minutes. “I believe that at the end of the day, there are members of every single Olympic team since 1996 he did this to.”
USA Gymnastics has declined to comment about the 60 Minutes story. In previous statements, the organization said it was first notified about accusations against Nassar in 2015. They reported the allegations to authorities five weeks later, and he was removed from his position with the national team. Nassar has also been fired by Michigan State.
Nassar began working with USA Gymnastics’ medical staff in the 1980s and became the team physician in 1996.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Howard Says Nassar Told Her Not to Wear Underwear & Touched Her in ‘Intimate Places’
Jessica Howard told 60 Minutes she received treatment from Dr. Larry Nassar during the late 1990s when she was a member of USA Gymnastics.
She told 60 Minutes the abuse occurred while she was at the legendary Karolyi camp in Texas, run by Bela and Martha Karolyi. She was 15 and suffered a severe hip injury.
“He started massaging me. And he had asked me not to wear any underwear. And then he just continued to go into more and more intimate places,” Howard told 60 Minutes. “I remember thinking something was off but I didn’t feel like I was able to say anything because he was, you know, this very high profile doctor and I was very lucky to be at the camp working with him.”
Howard said the other girls in her cabin at the camp talked about Nassar’s treatments.
“The girls would say ‘yeah he touches you funny,'” Howard said.
Attorney John Manly has claimed the Karolyis created a toxic atmosphere that allowed Nassar’s abuse to occur. He believes accusations were ignored or covered up by members of the gymnastics community.
“As adults, we all have an obligation to protect children,” Manly told USA Today. “Now, did the Karolyis intend for (Nassar) to molest kids? I certainly doubt they did, but that’s not the issue. The issue is, who was watching him and who supervised him? And the short answer is, nobody.”
Manly told USA Today “kids were hurt” as a result.
“I think it defies credulity that from 1996 to 2016 that no one complained,” Manly said. “I think the evidence will show they did and that it was ignored. Because Nassar was willing to non-report and look the other way as to a lot of the things that were going on at the ranch that shouldn’t have been going on in terms of the way kids were treated, I think the evidence will show Dr. Nassar was given a pass and was allowed to violate their own rules.”
The Karolyis have denied wrongdoing. They are named in at least two lawsuits filed by Manly.
2. Antolin Told 60 Minutes She Felt ‘Uncomfortable’ During Treatment From Nassar
Jeanette Antolin told 60 Minutes she had a similar experience with Larry Nassar.
She was also a member of the team in the late 1990s.
“I remember being uncomfortable because of the area. But in my mind, I was like, ‘If this helps, I’ll do anything,'” she told 60 Minutes.
Antolin said she didn’t complain. “It was treatment. You don’t complain about treatment,” she said.
Several other women have now lodged complaints against Nassar. They claim they did not give consent for the invasive procedures, which at times include vaginal and anal penetration, according to court documents. Many were minors and say in legal documents that their parents were not told about the treatments Nassar conducted.
Former gymnast Rachel Denhollander was one of two women to first come forward publicly in a September 2016 article in the Indianapolis Star. She is accusing Nassar of sexually assaulting her during six treatments for lower back pain. She told police he penetrated her vagina and anus with his finger and thumb and unhooked her bra and massaged her breasts, according to the Indy Star. She said he did it while her mother was in the room, but position her in a way that she couldn’t see.
“I was terrified. I was ashamed. I was very embarrassed. And I was very confused, trying to reconcile what was happening with the person he was supposed to be,” she told the newspaper. “He’s this famous doctor. He’s trusted by my friends. He’s trusted by these other gymnasts. How could he reach this position in the medical profession, how could he reach this kind of prominence and stature if this is who he is?”
She said she initially thought it was her fault.
Denhollander said she talked about the sexual abuse with her future husband when they were dating, several years after it happened. She told him she felt “dirty” and “damaged” because of it.
Another former gymnast also spoke out to the Indy Star.
Jane Doe, an Olympic medalist, claims she was sexually assaulted by Nassar from 1994 to 2000, from when she was 12 or 13 until she was 18. She is suing USA Gymnastics and three of its past presidents, according to the Indianapolis Star. The lawsuit claims the organization was warned about Nassar and did not adequately address concerns about him.
In the lawsuit she accuses Nassar of “groping and fondling” her “vagina and anus.”
The lawsuit claims Nassar began “grooming” her in 1994 “under the guise of care, athletic training, osteopathy and kinesiology to normalize intimate, inappropriate and sexually abusive contact.”
She accuses Nassar of fondling and groping her “feet, ankles, thighs, buttocks, hips, waist, breast, arms, shoulders and neck” while claiming it was part of the treatment.
During later treatments, Jane Doe says Nassar performed “intravaginal adjustment,” which she claims was a fictitious guise where he would “penetrate” her vagina to adjust the bones in her hips:
This ‘intravaginal adjustment’ was done without gloves, lubricant and/or a chaperone,” and was done for (Nassar’s) own sexual gratification … In addition, (Jane Doe) is informed and believes (Nassar) would do anal and vaginal examinations of (Jane Doe) and other gymnasts. … These anal and vaginal examinations were well outside any recognized and/or accepted technique and were done for (Nassar’s) own sexual gratification.
Jane Doe also claims Nassar engaged in sexual talk and innuendo, openly discussing adult topics.
“(Nassar) would tell (Jane Doe) that other gymnasts would give ‘blowjobs’ and described in detail the process of oral sex and other bizarre, explicit sexual innuendo,” according to the lawsuit.
3. Howard Was Inducted Into the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame & Now Works as a Trainer in New York
Jessica Howard, a Jacksonville, Florida, native, was inducted into the U.S. Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 2015.
She was a member of the U.S. National Team from 1997 to 2002. She just missed out on a spot on the U.S. Olympic team in 2000, falling just .001 short in two events, according to the Hall of Fame’s website.
Howard attempted a run at the Olympics in 2004, but injuries forced her to retire from the sport, according to Jacksonville.com.
During her career she was a three-time national champion in rhythmic gymnastics, in 1999, 2000 and 2001, and at 15 was the youngest athlete to win that title. She also won a gold medal at the Junior Pan American Games in 1998 and a silver medal at the same competition a year later.
Howard graduated from The King’s College in 2008 and now lives in New York City, according to her Linkedin profile. She works as a stretch and conditioning specialist and trainer with several groups, including Ballet Extensions, which she co-founded.
Howard has been involved with USA Gymnastics since 2008 as an athlete director.
She also worked as a talk radio producer at WABC from 2005 to 2008.
4. Antolin Was a Gymnast at UCLA & Now Works in Fashion as a Stylist
Jeanette Antolin, who grew up in California, spent five years on the U.S. National Team, from 1995 to 2000. She missed out on a trip to the Sydney Olympics in 2000 because of an ankle injury.
She was part of the 1999 World Championship Team and was an alternate on the World Championships team in 1997.
After her time with USA Gymnastics, Antolin went on to compete at UCLA. She graduated from the university in 2005 with a degree in sociology and was a member of three National Championship-winning teams during her time there, according to her Linkedin profile.
Antolin now lives in New York and works as a fashion stylist for Saks Fifth Avenue. She has styled high-profile clients for events including NYC Fashion Week, Television appearances, Commercials, Ad campaigns, Photo shoots, Pro-Bowl, and Super Bowl, she says on Linkedin.
She previously worked as a buyer and stylist for Cindy’s Boutique.
5. Nassar Is Facing Sexual Assault Charges in Michigan & Child Pornography Charges in Federal Court
Lawrence Nassar is currently facing criminal charges in both Michigan state court and in federal court.
The Holt, Michigan, resident was first arrested in November 2016, on three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a person younger than 13, the Indianapolis Star reported. He faces up to life in prison on those charges, which accuse Nassar of sexually abusing a girl at his home from 1998 to 2005. State authorities are investigating dozens of other criminal complaints made against the doctor.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said at a press conference the charges are the “tip of the iceberg” and “the guy was a predator … we’ll get the conviction.”
Nassar was released on $1 million bail in the state case, but found himself back behind bars in December 2016 after a two-count federal indictment was filed against him, accusing him of possessing thousands of images of child pornography from 2003 to September 2016, MLive.com.
He remains in custody on those charges, which carry a minimum of five years in prison and up to 40 years if convicted.
Nassar’s attorneys have declined to comment about the criminal cases.