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At the same time that Nassar was rightly being brought to justice, many predators within the competitive gymnastics world were walking free. spoke in-depth with three former gymnasts — Becca Seaborn, Courtney Kiehl, and Kaylin Brietzke — who survived years of abusive encounters with their coaches.
All three were molested as little girls by the very men who trained them, day in and day out, and who built up their hopes for Olympic glory and gold medals.
During Nassar's trial, more than 150 women detailed decades of gut-wrenching sexual abuse by the former USA Gymnastics national team doctor, among them Olympic gold-medalist Aly Raisman: "You caused me a great deal of physical, mental, and emotional pain.
You took advantage of our passions and our dreams," she said, looking right at him with strength and grit.
Every time a guy liked me, I got scared, because I didn't know what it meant.
I had my first real kiss at 18 with my first boyfriend, who later became my husband.
Now, even with their shattered dreams and haunting pain, Seaborn, Kiehl, and Brietzke are sharing the horrific details of their experiences so that other children, including their own, never have to suffer at the hands of the coaches, and parents can understand some of the warning signs. And as I got older, the sport fit my competitive nature.
I loved being challenged and gymnastics made me feel strong and proud, especially after nailing a new trick.
And my mom began noticing a change in my personality. Every time I arrived for practice, he insisted I hug him before starting. In September 2002, he was over at our house and began teasing me about a boy I liked from the neighborhood.
He'd pull my leotard aside and say, "Oh, that's what I shouldn't be touching when I'm stretching.
Let me touch it, so I know what Shortly before my 12th birthday, he pulled out a video camera at the gym and said, "I want to record what your vagina looks like, so I know what not to touch next time." I'd do anything to make him stop.
As a mom now, I can't imagine how hard it would be to ask your child that question. When Seaborn said, "Just promise me you destroyed them, okay?
" Schiefelbein responded, "Whatever." The Brentwood Police Department then executed a search warrant for Esprit Gymnastics and Schiefelbein's residence. In court, a detective stated Schiefelbein "zoomed" the camera in on Seaborn's clothed vaginal area more than 200 times, when she was not doing anything of a "gymnastics nature." None of the videotapes showing Seaborn's uncovered vaginal area were ever found.] He was arrested that day. That September, he was sentenced to 96 years in prison.
So when he left Let It Shine to start his own gym, Esprit, and told my family, "She'll excel under my coaching," we followed him. We asked permission to use the bathroom and eat snacks.