MNNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The attorney for a Minnesota gymnast is fighting back against USA Gymnastics after she shared her story of past sexual abuse.

The organization denies it covered up the abuse.

Maggie Nichols revealed this week that Dr. Larry Nassar started abusing her when she was 15 years old during treatment for injuries, and that USA Gymnastics told her not to report the abuse. WCCO’s Kate Raddatz shares how people here locally are showing their support for Nichols breaking her silence.

Nichols’ parents told WCCO that USA Gymnastics told the family not to report any sexual abuse allegations against Dr. Nassar in 2015.

“I was told not to report it to our authorities. We were told USA gymnastics would handle it,” Nichols’ dad told WCCO’s Esme Murphy.

maggie nichols USA Gymnastics Denies Abuse Cover Up, Nichols Attorney Pushes Back

Maggie Nichols (credit: CBS)

USA Gymnastics responded on Tuesday, vehemently denying that it tried to silence athletes. A statement said in part: “USA Gymnastics kept the matter confidential because of the FBI’s directive not to interfere with the investigation.”

“When you find out a child has been abused, you pick up the phone, you pick up the phone and call child protective services,” Attorney John Manly said.

USA gymnastics didn’t approach the FBI until Aly Raisman and Michaela Maroney also came forward. They hired their own private investigator while Dr Nassar continued to treat young gymnasts at Michigan State.

“This was a concealment job, an effort to cover it up and frankly, law enforcement should be all over this,” Manly said.

On Twitter, Raisman called the response from USA gymnastics “hurtful.” “Stop victim shaming,” she wrote.

Here in Minnesota, a video taken at the Twin Cities Twisters gym in Champlin — where Nichols trained — shows young gymnasts holding up signs for Nichols. They read: “Brave, Bold. Our Hero.” At the end, it shows Sara Jantze, the coach who overheard Nichols talking about the abuse and first reported it.

Nassar was sentenced last November to 60 years in prison on child pornography charges. More than 100 girls and other young women have come forward, accusing Dr. Nassar of sexual assault.

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