HOUSTON (FOX 26) - The first lawsuit against the International Federation of Gymnastics has now been filed in Houston by women who say they are victims of Larry Nassar.
“Every day you just feel kind of gross and disgusting that this happened,” says Emily Vincent. She was a high school swimmer and Victoria Carlson was a high school gymnast when they say they were not only treated but sexually assaulted by Michigan State University sports injury physician Dr. Larry Nassar.
”When he was doing it, he would explain it and say what he was doing the entire time," describes Vincent. "I mean, I was 15 years old. I didn't really know what was going on.”
“He asked me if I ever had my back reset and I told him no, that I'd never even been to a chiropractor so I didn't recognize what was happening and I trusted it was treatment,” adds Carlson.
Nassar is now serving a life sentence for violating hundreds of athletes including a number of Olympic gymnasts but Vincent, Carlson and their attorneys say he is not the only one to blame.
"These organizations including MSU, Michigan State had to have known that Nassar was molesting these girls,” says attorney Muhammad Aziz.
For the first time, Nassar's victims have filed a lawsuit against the International Federation of Gymnastics. This new lawsuit also joins hundreds of other victims in suing Michigan State University, USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic Committee. Females who range from ages 14 to 41 say in the lawsuit that they were sexually molested by Larry Nassar.
”The institutions, that were supposed to protect these young women, failed,” says attorney James White.
”They were directly involved in placing these girls in the hands of Nassar,” adds Aziz.
The lawsuits also state that during the course of Nassar’s “treatments,” he inserted “his bare, ungloved and unlubricated hand into the vagina or touched the vaginal area and bare breasts” of a number of the victims.
”Larry Nassar was the most prolific child molester in the history of this country," adds White. "He is the real life boogie man.
White says the first victim reported Nassar's abuse in 1997 but he wasn't stopped.
”These two young women were born in 1996," says White. "They do not have to be sitting here today".
"This has been going on for twenty years, since I was born, and that shocked me,” adds Vincent.
USA Gymnastics, the organization that hired Nassar, breached its duty to reveal the abuse to the victims’ families, the U.S. Olympic Committee, Michigan State University, and law enforcement agencies, according to the lawsuit.
Although the lawsuit doesn't specify a dollar amount, the attorneys say they ultimately hope to win a change in policies to protect children in the future and they say that is priceless.
“As a former athlete who competed in a sport for the United States myself, I know the complete trust these young women put in their coaches, their trainers, and organizations like FIG and USAG," says victims’ attorney Michelle Simpson Tuegel. "Not only did they fail to protect these young women, they also have continued to engage in a culture of silence that is designed to protect their multi-million dollar institutions and enterprises rather than protect the bodies and spirits of these young female athletes.”
“The trauma these women have suffered as a result of the sexual abuse and assaults has only been made worse by the failure of these institutions to take meaningful responsibility for what happened to these young girls on their watch,” says White.
FOX 26 News contacted the organizations named in the lawsuit.
USA Gymnastics responded with the following statement:
USA Gymnastics does not comment on pending legal matters. USA Gymnastics is sorry that any gymnast was harmed by the despicable crimes Larry Nassar committed. The safety and well-being of our athletes are our highest priority and at the forefront of the decisions and actions that USA Gymnastics is taking to build a culture of empowerment that encourages our athletes to speak up, especially about difficult topics, and promotes a safe, positive training environment.
FOX 26 will share statements from the other organizations named in the lawsuit when they respond.