Olympic bronze medalist Tasha Schwikert and her sister, former USA national team member Jordan Schwikert, have become the latest gymnasts to file lawsuits against former national team doctor and convicted criminal Larry Nassar, as well as USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee for enabling the sexual abuse done by Nassar under the guise of medical treatment. Just a few days after telling their story to ABC News, the sisters are suing Nassar and the governing bodies in Los Angeles superior court, seeking damages for claims that include sexual assault, sexual harassment, negligence, fraud, and racketeering.
Here is how Tasha Schwikert, who medaled with the national team at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, describes her experience with a person the complaint calls Doe 1, who based on how the lawsuit describes him—a convicted childhood sex abuser who was sentenced to 120 years in federal prison—is Nassar.
From the beginning, Doe 1 groomed Ms. Schwikert-Warren by developing a personal relationship with her built on trust and confidence. He slowly began to normalize inappropriate touching and massage under the guise of so-called medical treatment. Two years after this grooming period, Doe 1 started to satisfy his sexual needs through touching the private parts of Ms. Schwikert-Warren, who was then a 15-year old remarkable gymnast with her sights set on qualifying for the Olympics. Doe 1 continued to sexually abuse her over a hundred times over the next five years.
Jordan, who has since taken the last name Cobbs, gives a similarly disturbing image in her lawsuit:
Doe 1 first began treating Ms. Cobbs in 2001 for sports injuries due to her participation in competitive gymnastics. Doe 1 was the doctor employed by Doe 2, the official body of United States gymnastics, to care for its athletes, including Ms. Cobbs and Doe 3, the national Olympics committee for the United States, had hired Doe 1 as well. From the beginning, Doe 1 sexually abused Ms. Cobbs by touching her vagina area without the use of gloves, without lubricants, without her consent, and without any chaperone present. The reasons for the “medical consultations” were injuries to Ms. Cobbs’s musculoskeletal system, including her hamstrings, thighs, and lower back; her vaginal area had no physiological or other medical relation to her injury. Yet, Doe 1 performed vulgar massages of her private parts under the guise of “medical treatment.” While molesting Ms. Cobbs, Doe 1 would sweat profusely, particularly on his forehead, and pant.
The lawsuits each deliver harsh criticisms of USAG and USOC, the organizations under whose eyes this abuse occurred. The complaints say that USAG “kept a secret file of sexual abuse allegations and enabled a culture of psychological and physical abuse that kept young girls silent.” They add that USOC was complicit as well because it had the ability to decertify USAG, but instead used that power to force USAG to be more lenient, threatening to decertify if it “continued to deny ‘due process’ rights to convicted child sex abusers whom Doe 2 placed on a ‘ban list.’”
In her interview with ABC News earlier this month, Tasha Schwikert said that she had initially said “no” when now-former president of USA Gymnastics Steve Penny unexpectedly called her in February 2017 and asked if she had been abused by Nassar, because she was not yet ready to come forward with her story.
“Up until that point,” she said in the interview, “if anyone asked how my gymnastics career was, how the Olympics was, you’d smile and say it was great — life was glamorous.
“It kind of reminds me of social media, when everyone posts the best five percent of their life, but no one wants to talk about the other 95 percent. It’s like everything is great, and you move on because it’s easier to portray that your life is glamorous, [that] you’re doing great and you’re fine.”
“To even think about it, it just makes me so disgusted inside,” Jordan Schwikert added. “I don’t even want to imagine that it even happened.”
The full lawsuits can be viewed here.