After watching hundreds of their teammates and friends step up and speak out, two more Olympic gymnasts are coming forward about abuse by former Team USA doctor, Larry Nassar.
The more they watched their teammates read statements to Nassar, the more Madison Kocian and Kyla Ross began to look at their interactions with the disgraced doctor, realizing their experiences mirrored other women’s who were sexually abused by Nassar, disguised as treatment.
Their mindset changed with this reality, realizing they were not spared from the abuse but were again on a team, a team of victims.
Ross said she was in denial of the abuse initially, in an interview with CBS This Morning.
“At 13, I thought it was a legitimate form of treatment. As years have gone on, after hearing impact statements, you realize what a terrible event has happened.”
The abuser, Nassar, is serving up to 235 years in prison after hundreds of women spoke up and he was found guilty of sexually abusing athletes in his care for decades.
Both Ross and Kocian filed lawsuits against Michigan State and plan to do the same against the United States Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics for the abuse.
“It was almost like a family member,” Kocian said of their relationship with Nassar. “And he would on international trips, he would bring us food. Or he would just kind of be the person that would always ask, ‘how are you doing?'”
However, most of the abuse took place at the Karolyi Ranch in Texas, the main training facility for U.S. national teams run by legendary coaches Bela and Martha Karolyi, according to reports. The camp was a culture of fear and silence, according to Kocian, which aided in the abuse.
Ross, who competed in the 2012 Olympics as a member of the famous “Fierce Five” winning a team gold medal, said she agrees, they were silenced by “being on a national team” left without a voice or say. Kocian agreed, saying if they spoke up when it happened, “we would not have been considered” for the Olympics, and that is wrong.
“As an athlete, we should have a voice.”
Although it took them months to process and longer to go public, they are doing it now. The pair said speaking up will help them heal and send a message to victims of sexual abuse everywhere that there is no timetable on coming to grips with the trauma.
It is never too late to speak up and say “hey, me too.”