Day five of victims addressing Larry Nassar
Wieber on Nassar abuse: 'We just fought through it'
01:53 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

If disgraced doctor Larry Nassar managed to secretly abuse young gymnasts in their parents’ presence, a coach who ran the famed Karolyi Ranch training center has insisted she couldn’t have known either.

Bela & Martha Karolyi in 2011

Martha Karolyi explained her reasoning in taped comments that aired Friday morning, marking the first public reaction from her and her husband, legendary coach Bela Karolyi, since Nassar’s downfall changed the sport forever.

“If you couldn’t suspect anything – I heard during the testimonies that some of the parents were in therapy room with their own child and Larry Nassar was performing this and parent couldn’t see – how could I see?” Martha Karolyi told NBC’s Savannah Guthrie in an interview for “Dateline,” set to air in its entirety Sunday night. Excerpts aired Friday on NBC’s “Today” show.

Karolyi’s comments echo testimony she and her husband gave during sworn depositions in May 2017, which were obtained by CNN.

In her deposition, Martha Karolyi said she didn’t know about Nassar’s abuse until June 2015, when she received a phone call from then-USAG President Steve Penny.

When asked if she’d been aware of any sexual misconduct by Nassar prior to that point, Martha said, “Absolutely not.”

Martha and Bela Karolyi testified that they had little, if any, responsibility while national elite gymnasts trained at their ranch one week every month. Bela Karolyi said USA Gymnastics set and enforced all policies at the ranch during those periods.

‘It’s a crime and it’s so sad’

For decades, Bela and Martha Karolyi have run the prominent Karolyi Ranch, a training facility tucked away in southeast Texas that bred gymnastics champions – along with a fear of then-team doctor Nassar, who some victims say molested them at the ranch.

“The whole thing is just like an explosion, a bomb exploding: Boom,” Bela Karolyi said of the Nassar scandal’s impact on the world of elite gymnastics.

After a series of high-profile trials and victim testimonies, Nassar was sentenced recently to decades behind bars for sexually abusing girls under the guise of medical treatment.

USA Gymnastics cut ties with the Karolyi Ranch in January after several gymnasts – including four-time gold medalist Simone Biles – said Nassar abused her at the ranch.

Asked how she feels about claims by some of gymnastics’ biggest stars say they were violated on the Karolyi Ranch, Martha Karolyi told Guthrie: “That’s awful. But I would say, even if they had big names or they have no names, any child who was violated by Nassar, it’s a crime and it’s so sad.”