Sexual abuse in gymnastics
Sexual abuse of young gymnasts goes well beyond notorious serial predator Larry Nasser
When USA Gymnastics Coach John Geddert was arrested in March 2021 for sexually abusing young gymnasts, his victims breathed a collective sigh of relief.
But their relief was short-lived: Geddert committed suicide just hours after his arrest, leaving his victims bereft.
Gymnast Lindsey Lemke, 25, told ABC News that “a lot of us girls are still suffering and trying to heal. In the blink of an eye we had that taken away from us. We’ll never have closure, we’ll never have answers, we’ll never get to see him convicted.”
Lemke was assisting Michigan’s attorney general with the Geddert investigation. In addition to sexual, physical and emotional abuse, Geddert was charged with forcing athletes to perform while injured.
Following Geddert’s suicide, Lemke and other gymnasts called for an independent investigation into USA Gymnastics and the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee.
Lemke is among the gymnasts who allege that Geddert enabled Larry Nasser, whose sexual abuse conviction resulted in a 175-year prison sentence.
“Monsters don’t thrive for decades without the help of people,” two-time Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman told CNN.
Dr. Larry Nasser is, of course, the worst monster of all. The former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State team doctor is estimated to have sexually abused more than 500 young, female athletes between 1992 and 2015.
Terin Humphrey’s story
Olympic Silver Medalist and World Champion Terin Humphrey is one of Nasser’s victims. In 2002, she was 15 years old when Nasser “treated” her for a hip injury.
“I had torn both my hips, so my coaches asked Dr. Nasser to see me,” Humphrey said. “One of my coaches accompanied me but it didn’t make any difference – Nasser blocked her line of vision to make sure she couldn’t see what was happening. He pulled my briefs up so high that I knew I was exposed – and then he began petting me.”
Humphrey was caught off guard and jerked away from Nasser but he continued assaulting her.
“I remember his smile got really wide and he made a sound I’ll never forget when he felt my pubic hair,” she said. “He kept his hand on my vagina and continued rubbing me. Then he digitally penetrated me.”
Humphrey, her coach and Nasser were only in the exam room together for 15-20 minutes but it was an “odd” experience that Humphrey brushed off, thinking that because Nasser was “a USA Gymnastics doctor he probably had more expertise than my previous massage therapist.”
Little did she know that more than a decade later she would be one of hundreds of talented young gymnasts who would come forward with complaints about rampant sexual abuse in USA Gymnastics.
The victims would come to include the most decorated gymnast in US history: Simone Biles, who has 30 Olympic and World Championship medals, told the San Jose Mercury News in April 2021 that it’s “disheartening” to know USA Gymnastics and the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee have not launched an independent investigation into the sexual abuse.
“While the survivors are still out there competing I feel like (the sports organizations) just want to sweep it under the rug but that’s not how to go about it,” Biles said.
Biles and Raisman have both been critical of a proposed $215 million settlement that would have been divided among 500-plus Nasser victims.
Terin Humphrey is not included in that proposed settlement – attorney Robert Allard of Corsiglia McMahon & Allard has filed a separate lawsuit on her behalf.
“It took me years to acknowledge my abuse, so I’m certain there are other victims who have yet to come forward,” Humphrey said. “When they do come forward, the class action lawsuit we’ve filed will give them a voice, too.”
If you’re an athlete who has been sexually abused by your coach, trainer or another athlete, please contact our Athlete Abuse attorneys. Your inquiry is 100% confidential.