Former U.S. women’s national gymnastics team coordinator Martha Karolyi and her husband, acclaimed former coach Bela Karolyi, said in a deposition last year that they did not know about the serial sexual abuse that Dr. Larry Nassar committed on their ranch, according to court records obtained by CNN.
Karolyi Ranch in Texas became the official training center for the national team in 2001 and a U.S. Olympic training site in 2011. Nassar—who will spend the rest of his life in prison after being convicted of sexual assault and child pornography—served as the team doctor for much of that time, and former gymnasts have described being sexually abused by him under the guise of “treatment” while training at Karolyi Ranch.
The documents obtained by CNN come from the civil suit filed by former gymnast Mattie Larson.
Martha Karolyi claimed in the deposition that she had infrequent contact at her ranch with Nassar, who was hired and supervised by USA Gymnastics:
[I]n responses to the questions she did answer, Karolyi emphasized she had limited interaction with the team doctor, saying she never called him. “I didn’t call but periodically maybe he would give me a report.”
When asked if Nassar ever called her, her response was still vague. “Maybe. Possible. Yes.”
Karolyi said that she did not know if Nassar was licensed to practice in Texas, saying that she had assumed that he was and emphasizing that USA Gymnastics bore responsibility for him.
Gymnasts painted a very different picture of Martha Karolyi’s role, saying that she was very involved in everything that went on at the ranch, which included almost every aspect of their lives and medical care:
“Martha was the national team coordinator but the way I saw it, she sort of had control over anything and everything that went on at the ranch,” said 2012 Olympic gold medalist Jordyn Wieber. “She knew what was going on every second in the gym. She knew how many routines that we did. She knew what we were eating. She knew our treatments. So it was just, when you go there, you know that Martha is watching. Everything you’re doing, she’s watching.”
Martha Karolyi claimed that she had not been involved in subjects such as security for the gymnasts or even being aware of where they were at any given time, again passing responsibility onto USA Gymnastics. Nassar is said to have given gymnasts after-hours treatments in and around the girls’ cabins, an area of the ranch where other adults were generally not allowed:
When asked who was responsible for security during her tenure as the national team coordinator from 2001 to 2016, Martha Karolyi said she didn’t know. “I really wasn’t in charge of organizing that. I don’t know.”
“Who was in charge of making sure the girls were safe in their cabins, if anyone?” [attorney John] Manly asked.
“I’m not sure, I think the USA Gymnastics representatives checked that everything good with the girls,” Martha Karolyi said.
Bela Karolyi, who retired from coaching in 2001, echoed his wife’s statements.
Martha Karolyi retired in 2016, and Karolyi Ranch was set to be sold to USA Gymnastics. Since the revelations about Nassar’s abuse, the sale has fallen through.