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Documents show USA Gymnastics covered for former doctor Larry Nassar during sex abuse investigation

Former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced up to 175 years for sexually abusing hundreds of girls and women under the guise of medical treatment. A new report uncovered the extent of its attempts to silence those involved, including his victims. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

It's widely known that USA Gymnastics kept information about concerns of its disgraced former doctor, Larry Nassar, but a new report from the Indianapolis Star uncovered the extent of its attempts to silence those involved, including his victims.

The news outlet combed through more than 900 pages of documents and conducted interviews with several gymnasts, including Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman, who is one of many survivors suing the organization for its role in the abuse.

The Star uncovered damning details about the organization's governing officials who not only withheld concerns from athletes and their parents but played along with his deception after being alerted to the allegations of sexual abuse against him.

What happened?

USA Gymnastics said it first became aware of "athlete concerns" on June 17, 2015, when a coach overheard Raisman and Maggie Nichols talking about Nassar.

The coach contacted the organization immediately, but it wasn't until July 22, 2015, that attorney Scott D. Himsel emailed Nassar to tell him that his "therapy techniques" were under investigation.

Himsel advised Nassar that USA Olympics decided "it is in everyone's best interest" that the doctor not attend an event that weekend.

"I am sure you can appreciate as a medical professional that in today's atmosphere, we need to address these concerns thoroughly and discreetly," Himsel wrote in an email to Nassar.

"Can we just say that i am sick?" Nassar replied. "That would make more sense to everyone. Would that be ok?"

"We'll let [USA Gymnastics COO] Ron [Galimore] know to advise people that you weren't feeling well and decided to stay home," Himsel responded.

The excuses continued even after Olympic officials reported the allegations to the FBI on July 28, 2015.

Nassar emailed Hemsil that same day and the following day, July 29, 2015, asking to resolve the situation so that he could attend events leading to the 2016 Olympics.

"Because the review is on-going, USA Gymnastics has determined it is in everyone's best interest that you not attend USA Gymnastics events or communicate with USA Gymnastics athletes and personnel until further notice," Himsel responded. "In addition, we suggest that prior to Championships that Ron Galimore will once again advise the medical staff (the Athlete Care Coordinator) that you cannot attend for personal reasons, unless you prefer a different approach that we are prepared to discuss. Please advise whether Ron may do so."

"If I am not going to be at Championships," Nassar wrote back, "then it is due to financial reasons with my clinical practice, which is an accurate statement."

"Understood," Himsel wrote. "Ron will proceed accordingly. USAG will be back in touch when it reaches the appropriate point in its review."

The organization claimed it relieved Nassar of his duties on July 29, 2015, but it wasn't until Sept. 27, 2015, that Nassar announced his "retirement" on his Facebook page.

What did Raisman say?

Fran Sepler, the investigator for USA Olympics, texted Raisman during the investigation. Sepler told her "remember that there are risks in sharing information at this point."

Raisman told the Star that she interpreted the text as a threat to remain silent, which Sepler said was a misunderstanding.

USA Gymnastics President Steve Penny also texted Raisman in mid-July before the investigation was complete and told her to keep it "quiet and confidential and very few people in the loop."

"I don't think that they cared at all. I think at first it was to 'get him away,' Nassar away from the Olympians, but when it was about a 10-year-old, or a 15-year-old, or 20-year-old in Michigan they didn't care," Raisman said.

Are there consequences for USA Gymnastics?

Dozens of Nassar's victims, including Raisman, have filed lawsuits against the USA Gymnastics.

Survivors have accused the organization of "negligence, fraud, intentional infliction of emotional distress and failing to warn, train or protect athletes from Nassar's abuse," the Star reported.

USA Gymnastics has reportedly refuted the allegations and filed motions to dismiss the suits.

How many years did Nassar get?

In January, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina sentenced the disgraced doctor to 40 to 175 years for seven counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. Last year, Nassar also received 60 years for a separate case involving child pornography charges.

More than 330 girls and women have come forward with claims of sexual abuse by Nassar and spanning more than two decades.

One last thing…
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