Abbott Calls On Texas Rangers To Investigate Former USA Gymnastics Training Center

Jan 30, 2018

Credit Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

Gov. Greg Abbott is calling on the Texas Rangers to investigate allegations of sexual assault at the former site of the National Training Center for USA Gymnastics. The property’s owners, Bela and Marta Karolyi, were recently implicated in a widespread sexual assault and abuse scandal that ended with the imprisonment of former USA Gymnastics Doctor Larry Nassar.

Nassar sexually assaulted hundreds of victims over decades as the chief doctor for USA Gymnastics. Many of the victims testified that their abuse took place at the Karolyi Ranch in Walker County. Nassar was sentenced to 175 years in prison last week. 

The property is already the target of a local investigation, but Abbott called on the Rangers to assist the Walker County Sheriff’s Office, as the allegations aren’t confined to the county north of Houston. In a statement today, Abbott said:

The public statements made by athletes who previously trained at the Karolyi Ranch are gutwrenching. 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. The people of Texas demand, and the victims deserve, nothing less.

The Karolyi Ranch served as the main training site for Olympic-hopefuls for decades until USA Gymnastics decommissioned the gym earlier this month. 

Former USA Gymnastics gold medalist Dominique Moceanu told NPR last week the Karolyis used "fear, intimidation tactics, shaming tactics" to train would-be Olympians and turned a blind eye to Nassar's abuse. 

"The Karolyi Ranch was the perfect breed for a prolific pedophile," Moceanu told NPR's Michele Martin. "He got to go unchecked. And there is also the institutions who never reported any instances of sexual abuse. They brushed it under the rug." 

More than 130 victims testified at Nassar's sentencing hearing, which culminated last week. Following that verdict, the entire board of USA Gymnastics resigned after pressure from the U.S. Olympic Committee.