Governor Greg Abbott requested a “full and thorough investigation” Tuesday into allegations that women athletes endured sexual abuse at the famed Karolyi Ranch, the Texas-based former national training center for USA Gymnastics.
Abbott tapped the Texas Rangers, a division of the Texas Department of Public Safety known as the state’s preeminent law enforcement agency, to conduct a “full and thorough investigation” into alleged sexual misconduct at Karolyi Ranch located in the Sam Houston National Forest in Walker County.
This follows the high profile trial of Larry Nassar, the disgraced USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University sports medicine doctor who, last week, was sentenced to serve 60 years in federal prison for possession of child pornography, as Breitbart News reported. Nassar also pleaded guilty to seven counts of criminal sexual conduct in a Michigan courtroom for which the judge handed him a separate sentence of 40 to 175 years behind bars.
Roughly 150 of Nassar’s victims attended his sentencing hearing, many of whom were Olympic Gold medal winners. Several read statements in which they depicted a troubling portrayal of sexual abuse at the Karolyi training center. They said Nassar molested them during monthly training camps at the ranch.
Nassar has admitted to using his position as a trusted doctor for U.S. Gymnastics and when he worked for the Michigan State University sports department to gain access to and assault women under the guise of providing medical attention.
“The recent, shocking allegations of sexual assault of athletes at the Karolyi Ranch in Walker County are deeply disturbing and demand thorough and swift justice,” wrote Abbott in a letter to Col. Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety. The governor called the public statements made by athletes who previously trained at the Karolyi Ranch “gut-wrenching.”
Abbott stated, “Those athletes, as well as all Texans, deserve to know that no stone is left unturned to ensure that the allegations are thoroughly vetted and the perpetrators and enablers of any such misconduct are brought to justice. The people of Texas demand, and the victims deserve, nothing less.”
The Texas governor also commended the Walker County Sheriff’s Office for their diligence in an ongoing probe into the Karolyi Ranch sexual abuse allegations, although he added that the Texas Rangers will bring top-notch investigative muscle and expertise to the multi-state case. “Considering that criminal action has been implicated across multiple jurisdictions and states, it is essential that the Texas Rangers work with the Walker County Sheriff’s Office to comprehensively investigate all potential criminal conduct,” noted Abbott.
Karolyi Ranch, owned by former USA national team coordinators Bela and Martha Karolyi, hosted monthly training camps for the women’s national team athletes from 2000 until January 2018, when USA Gymnastics cut ties with the facility, canceling its lease amid the Nassar sex abuse scandal.
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