Texas Governor Orders Investigation of Gymnastics Ranch

AUSTIN, Texas (CN) – Governor Greg Abbott on Tuesday ordered the Texas Rangers to investigate claims that disgraced former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar used the Karolyi Ranch in Walker County to sexually abuse young female athletes.

Larry Nassar looks at the gallery in the court during the sixth day of his sentencing hearing Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018, in Lansing, Mich. Nassar admitted sexually assaulting athletes when he was employed by Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics, which is the sport’s national governing organization and trains Olympians. (Dale G.Young/Detroit News via AP)

The famed Texas ranch served as the national training camp for U.S. women’s gymnastics before its closure last week, when multiple athletes came forward with allegations of sexual abuse while at the facility. The Walker County Sheriff’s Office is also currently investigating the matter.

The governor’s request comes after a Michigan judge sentenced Nassar to 40 to 175 years in prison last week for multiple charges of criminal sexual conduct.

Nassar, a former USA Gymnastics team doctor, had already been sentenced last year to 60 years in federal prison for charges of child pornography and destroying and concealing evidence.

Several female athletes claim Nassar sexually abused them at the Texas ranch, including gymnast Mattie Larson.

“There is an eerie feeling as soon as you step foot onto the Karolyi Ranch,” Larson said during victim-impact statements at Nassar’s sentencing hearing last week. “It is completely removed from all civilization. In the case of an emergency, the closest hospital is so far away you need to be helicoptered there. To get to the ranch, you must drive up a dirt road and the closest sign of civilization is a high-security prison 30 miles away.”

Nassar has been accused of sexual abuse by more than 150 women and girls.

In a letter requesting the criminal investigation, Governor Abbott wrote that the allegations are “deeply disturbing and demand thorough and swift justice.”

“The public statements made by athletes who previously trained at the Karolyi Ranch are gut-wrenching. Those athletes, as well as all Texans, deserve to know that no stone is left unturned to ensure that the allegations are thoroughly vetted and the perpetrators and enablers of any such misconduct are brought to justice,” Abbott said.

The training facility known for producing world-class gymnasts had been designated as the U.S. women’s national gymnastics training center in 2001, and as a U.S. Olympics training site in 2011.

USA Gymnastics announced its separation from the Karolyi Ranch earlier this month.

Bela and Martha Karolyi opened the east Texas facility in 1983, about 70 miles north of downtown Houston. Its website announced it was closing the day after Nassar was sentenced.

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