Martha Karolyi spent many good years as the coordinator of the women’s national team for USA Gymnastics. Karolyi retired after the 2016 Olympics. Now, Martha and her husband, Bela, are being questions about what they knew and when they knew it with regard to disgraced and imprisoned former team doctor, Larry Nassar.
Speaking to NBC News anchor Savannah Guthrie, Martha Karolyi claimed she “in no way” suspected Nassar of doing anything approaching the crimes for which he has been convicted. To emphasize her lack of knowledge, Karolyi told Guthrie: “The whole gymnastics community couldn’t recognize this… Everybody said, ‘Larry Nassar is a good doctor. Larry Nassar is a good guy.’”
This interview came during the taping of a Dateline NBC special called “Silent No More,” which traces the events leading up to Nassar’s humiliating fall from grace. The program details allegations of years of sexual abuse by Nassar on hundreds of former athletes, including many Olympians. Allegations that, in many cases, became charges on which Nassar has been convicted. And, now that Nassar’s behind bars, likely for the rest of his life, the investigation — and the eyes of the public — will turn toward all those involved and around him, asking who knew what and when did they know it.
Bela Karolyi compared this cascading fallout to “an explosion, like a bomb…”
As of right now, it appears the Karolyis are in danger of being caught up in one of those explosions. Both have been named in civil suits filed against USA Gymnastics, in which Nassar is also individually named. Among the alleged victims is Olympic star McKayla Maroney, who claims to be one of multiple young women sexually abused while staying at the Karolyi’s ranch in Texas.
As part of the promotion for the NBC Dateline program, Guthrie visited the ranch in question. She also talked about why some of the victims are speaking out, in many cases for the first time publicly. “I think they felt like it was time for them to tell their side of the story… I think they’ve watched and seen as their reputation has really taken a hit and people have asked a lot of questions about what they knew and just as importantly what they should have known…”
While not defending the Karolyi’s, Guthrie said they were very forthcoming, answering every question without once deferring to their legal counsel. This ‘surprised’ the veteran journalist, and it promises to make for an interesting conversation. Who will the public believe? Right now, sympathy is squarely with the victims, and many are still looking for someone else to blame.
Ronn Torossian is the CEO of 5W Public Relations