Officials from USA Gymnastics created what Larry Nassar’s attorney dubbed “false excuses” to explain why he was missing from major competitions and events in 2015 instead of revealing the former team physician was facing a probe for sexual abuse.
Emails obtained by the Indianapolis Star show that on at least two separate occasions, USA Gymnastics Attorney Steve D. Himsel worked with Nassar to deceive young gymnasts and their parents regarding his absences from the Secret U.S. Classic and the USA P&G Championship.
USA Gymnastics said the first time they were alerted to Nassar’s misconduct was on June 15, 2015 — after a coach overheard a conversation between gymnasts Aly Raisman and Maggie Nichols.
In an email just more than a month later, Himsel told Nassar USA Gymnastics was investigating his “therapy techniques.”
“I am sure you can appreciate as a medical professional that in today’s atmosphere, we need to address these concerns thoroughly and discreetly,” Himsel wrote, adding that it would be in “everyone’s best interest” for him not to attend the Secret U.S. Classic in Illinois.
“We suggested during the call that (USA Gymnastics Chief Operating Officer) Ron Galimore advise the medical team that you are not attending the Classic for personal reasons.”
Nassar replied, requesting they say he is sick instead.
“That would make more sense to everyone,” the ex-doctor wrote. “Would that be okay?”
In another email on July 28, 2015 — about a week later — Nassar wrote Himsel to request the situation be resolved “as quickly as possible.”
“I would like to move forward with this since I will need to be at the USA P&G Championships in Indianapolis,” Nassar wrote in a separate email the next day.
In his reply Himsel again tells Nassar they’ve decided it is in “everyone’s best interest” he not attend the event or “communicate with USA Gymnastics athletes until further notice.”
Nassar wrote back: “If I am not going to be at Championships, then it is due to financial reasons with my clinical practice, which is an accurate statement.”
Himsel again agreed to go along with the cover story, adding the USAG would be “back in touch when it reaches the appropriate point in its review.”
In September 2015, Nassar’s attorney at the time, Matthew Borgula, followed up on the investigations — unaware that, as USA Gymnastics would go on to claim, Nassar had been let go on July 29, 2015.
Borgula noted both athletes and coaches missed Nassar at the recent events and that the doctor can no longer “honor your request to provide false excuses to his colleagues, the USAG staff and/or the athletes about his absence.”
Later on in September, Nassar announced he was retiring from his role with USA Gymnastics, which the organization did not dispute.
As the investigation unfolded, Nassar continued working in at least one USA Gymnastics member gym in Michigan and at Michigan State University. He was not added to the organization’s list of of those banned from the sport, according the Star.
Over 300 women and girls have come forward with allegations against the disgraced physician, many of them claiming he sexually abused them under the guise of medical treatment.
Olympic gold medalists Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Gabby Douglas as well as Raisman have said Nassar abused them for years.
A judge in December sentenced Nassar to 60 years in federal prison on three counts of child porn possession. The following month he was sentenced in Ingham County to 40 to 175 years behind bars. He was also handed another 40 to 125-year sentence for sexual assault charges in Eaton County.
USA Gymnastics cleaned house amid the scandal, with the entire board and its president Steve Penny resigning. Scott Blackmun, the chief executive of the U.S. Olympic Committee also stepped down.