Aly Raisman Says 'Disgusting' Conditions at Karolyi Ranch Enabled Child Molester Larry Nassar
Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman claims the inadequate conditions at the Karolyi Ranch made athletes vulnerable to Larry Nassar's abuse
The showers were dirty, the bunk beds were sometimes crawling with bugs and the food “didn’t sit well in your stomach.” This is how Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman describes the famous Karolyi Ranch.
The 23-year-old gold medal-winning athlete is suing the United States Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics for failing to protect women and girls from former Team USA gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar‘s years of sexual abuse. Now, she says the conditions at the renowned training camp made athletes vulnerable to the child molester.
“The shower smelled like eggs, and we would bring sandals to wear because it was so disgusting,” Raisman told the Washington Post. “After you showered you were like, ‘I almost feel dirtier than before.’ ”
A USA Gymnastics spokesperson told the Post the group could not respond to questions about conditions at the ranch “due to pending litigation.”
Attorneys for the Martha and Bela Karolyi, who run the camp, did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment. However, their attorneys told PEOPLE last year, in part, that “the Karolyis did not have any knowledge of any complaint from anyone concerning any athlete’s alleged mistreatment by Dr. Nassar until they learned of his dismissal from USA Gymnastics during the summer of 2015. At the National Training Camp, the Karolyis encouraged the attending athletes to eat well, sleep well, and train with heart. The Karolyis deny the existence of a “toxic” environment.”
Karolyi Ranch — the legendary 40-acre camp credited for producing some of the world’s greatest gymnasts —has served as the USA Gymnastics official training center for years. Nestled in the Sam Houston National Forest, the ranch became the idyllic location for athletes. Young gymnasts dreaming of Olympic gold knew it was the only place to go if they wanted to earn their place on the Olympic team.
However, Raisman says not all was as it seemed at the once-beloved ranch. She says athletes were not given water and the bathrooms lacked soap —and athletes were afraid to ask for more for fear they wouldn’t make the Olympic team.
“Nobody wanted to be the one who was difficult,” Raisman told the Post. “Now that I’m away from the sport it makes me so angry that we were afraid to ask for soap.”
In January, USA Gymnastics officials announced that the organization has “terminated its agreement” with the Hunstville, Texas, ranch, noting that it “will no longer serve as the USA Gymnastics National Team Training Center.” The news followed years of accusations from athletes that the Karolyis failed to protect them from Nassar.
After long training days, the gymnasts slept four or six to a room in their dorms and their coaches usually left, former athletic trainer, Melanie Seaman told the Post. Seaman said Nassar would treat the young women at night in their rooms.
This, Raisman said, was very inappropriate.
“The fact that Nassar was fine working on us on our beds without a table, that 100 percent should’ve been a red flag to USA Gymnastics,” she told the publication.
In the midst of the alleged “disgusting” conditions, USA Gymnastics then-president Steve Penny said in 2011 while announcing the Karolyi Ranch as an official USOC training site that the women had “spa days” and received manicures and pedicures.
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However, Raisman says that was not true: “We didn’t get any of it.”
Earlier this year, Nassar received lengthy sentences in Michigan’s Eaton and Ingham counties for sexually abusing girls and women for several years. In both hearings, several victims read emotional impact statements to the court.