MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A world champion gymnast from the Twin Cities has broken her silence to say she was molested by a Team USA physician.
Maggie Nichols, from Little Canada, joins gold medalists Aly Raisman, Michaela Maroney and more than 100 others girls and young women accusing Dr. Larry Nassar of sexual assault.
Maggie, 20, released a detailed statement saying Dr. Nassar started abusing her when she was 15, when he started treating her for back problems at the National USA Gymnastics facility in Texas.
Maggie soared to the top of the gymnastics world in 2015, earning a gold medal at the World Championships with Team USA.
But she had a secret, one she has held until now.
In a statement, she said, “I am making the decision to tell my traumatic story and hope to join the forces with my friends and teammates to bring about true change.”
Maggie’s parents also broke their silence.
“This is USA Gymnastics, this is the U.S. Olympic Committee,” said Maggie’s father, Dr. John Nichols.
They each shared their anguish and outrage.
“It’s so painful, it’s been horrible,” said Maggie’s mother, Gina Nichols. “I was so taken off guard that sending my daughter there one week a month for years, and she was down there being molested by the USA doctor.”
The Nichols say USA Gymnastics told them not to report the abuse.
“We were told not to report it to our authorities, not to report it to the police,” John said. “We were told that USA Gymnastics would handle it. They were going to contact the FBI.”
USA gymnastics didn’t approach the FBI until after Raisman and Maroney reported the abuse.
Nassar was fired, but USA Gymnastics put out a release that he was retiring.
He returned to Michigan State, where he is accused of molesting gymnasts there for another year.
Nassar was sentenced last November to 60 year in prison on child pornography charges.
As for Maggie, she is now the top-ranked college gymnast in the nation, and last year she led the University of Oklahoma to a national title.
“It has been really, really, really hard, for her and for us,” Gina said. “Super, super traumatic, but kudos to her because she has continued on.”
The University of Oklahoma Gymnastics team tweeted a picture of Maggie Tuesday with the caption, “When you’re brave, you empower others to be brave, too.”
Maggie is part of a federal lawsuit filed against Michigan State, the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics.
Her parents say the hero in this terrible story is Maggie’s local coach, Sara Jantze, who overheard Maggie talking about the abuse and reported it.