Speaking out

Gymnast Lindsay Lemke opens up about sexual abuse by team doctor

Gymnast Lindsay Lemke. (YouTube / NBC News)

Larry Nassar, a prominent sports medicine doctor and former USA gymnastics team physician, has been accused of sexually assaulting more than 100 women. One of his alleged victims, gymnast Lindsay Lemke, recently opened up to Abigail Pesta, a frequent Women in the World contributor, in a story for Cosmopolitan about the years of abuse she said she endured as Nassar’s patient.

Lemke began seeing Nassar when she was 13 and training at a prestigious gym in Michigan. The doctor told her that her vertebrae were growing unevenly, and that he would administer treatments that could alleviate her pain. During each visit, Nassar would massage her body, touch her genitals, and digitally penetrate her.

“He told me that if he inserted a finger and pressure-pointed a certain area, it would make it feel better,” Lemke, now 21, said. She saw Nassar three times a week for four years, and says that he abused her each time.

Lemke’s account is eerily similar to that of other women who have accused Nassar of sexual assault. The doctor has said that with each case, he was performing a standard intra-pelvic procedure. According to Cosmopolitan, the American Osteopathic Association has said that such procedures are by no means standard, and are not used to alleviate the type of back pain that Lemke experienced.

Nassar has pleaded guilty to federal pornography charges, admitting that he collected and possessed thousands of images of child pornography. He is still facing several counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct in two Michigan counties. But other charges against Nassar, which allege that the doctor abused multiple victims during the Olympics and other international events, may prove difficult to prosecute.

The case has raised uncomfortable truths about the world of competitive sports, whereby athletes are encouraged to place tremendous faith in top coaches and doctors. Top trainees are also young, making them particularly susceptible to abuse.

Lemke told Cosmopolitan that she decided to speak out in the hopes of helping other young athletes identify sexual predators.

“A friend posted something on Facebook about how [the victims] were stupid not to realize it was happening,” she said. “I got mad. I said, ‘Look, the gymnastics world is different from anything you can comprehend. You have no idea the things that we go through, that our parents go through.’” Earlier this year Lemke spoke out in a story by NBC News on Nassar and at the time speculated that she’d been violated by Nassar “around 500 times or more, altogether.” Watch the video below to see the rest of her interview.

Read the full story at Cosmopolitan.


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Former U.S. gymnasts break silence on alleged sexual abuse by team doctor

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