Olympic Stars Testify To Congress About Sex Abuse At USA Gymnastics Program

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WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) – Over the past few decades, the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Team has been at the center of a dark scandal.

Dozens of former members have come forward, accusing one of their doctors of sexual abuse.

The women say it was not only his fault, because other organization officials failed to protect them.

Several victims testified before lawmakers on Tuesday.

Mattie Larson was among the former members of the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Team who spoke on Capitol Hill.

They shared their harrowing stories of sexual abuse at the hands of someone they trusted – Lawrence Nassar, the team’s doctor.

“Dr. Nassar abused me at the USA National Training Center in Texas. He abused me in California at meets and all over the world,” Jamie Dantzscher testified.

CBS News Chief Medical Correspondent Jon LaPook reported on 60 Minutes at least 60 gymnasts claimed Nassar abused them.

Their lawyer says that number is more than one hundred.

“At no time was there ever another adult in the room,” said Jessica Howard.

Victims testified that USA gymnastics officials and coaches are also to blame for creating a culture of high pressure and fear that made them afraid to come forward.

“The culture was money and medals – the culture wasn’t about the girl,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-CA.

Senators are working to pass legislation that would require amateur athletics groups to immediately report sex-abuse allegations to police, strengthen oversight of gyms and coaches and ensure victims can safely and easily report abuse.

“No one ever asked us what happened in there. It was much easier to turn a blind eye,” Larson said.

USA Gymnastics did not attend the hearing, but issued a statement, saying, in part:

“We are dealing with a serious problem, and we recommit ourselves to promoting a safe environment for our athletes.”

Larson says for the first time she feels hopeful future gymnasts won’t have to go through what she did.

Since December, Dr. Nassar has been held without bail in Michigan where he worked at the sports medicine clinic at Michigan State University. He faces charges of possession of child pornography and criminal sexual conduct.

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