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Texas Rangers To Investigate Famed Karolyi Ranch In Wake Of Nassar Trial

Laura Buckman for The Texas Tribune

Nearly a week after prominent USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to prison for the sexual assault of several female gymnasts, Gov. Greg Abbott has asked the Texas Rangers to investigate misconduct allegations at the famed Karolyi Ranch, the U.S. Olympic training facility in Southeast Texas, north of Houston, where Nassar had treated athletes.

"The public statements made by athletes who previously trained at the Karolyi Ranch are gut-wrenching," Abbott said in a statement Tuesday. "Those athletes, as well as all Texans, deserve to know that no stone is left unturned to ensure that the allegations are thoroughly vetted and the perpetrators and enablers of any such misconduct are brought to justice. The people of Texas demand, and the victims deserve, nothing less."

The Walker County Sheriff’s Office, which will collaborate with the Texas Rangers in the investigation, confirmed last week that it was looking into the ranch.

Abbott added that the Texas Rangers, the state's top criminal investigative unit, and the Walker County Sheriff Office must collaborate on the case because of the far reach of the allegations, which are spread across jurisdictions and state lines.

Karolyi Ranch, run by national team coordinator Martha Karolyi and her husband Bela, was previously the national training center for the Women’s National Gymnastics Team. The couple was accused of turning a blind eye to Nassar’s abuse in a 2016 California lawsuit. U.S.A. Gymnastics ended its relationship with the ranch on Jan. 18 after Olympic champion Simone Biles, who said she was sexually abused there, said "it is impossibly difficult"  to return to the site to train.

Nassar treated athletes at the ranch without a Texas medical license, the Dallas Morning News confirmed last week.

Last Wednesday, Nassar, who was a team doctor for decades, was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison. More than 150 women and girls said in court that he sexually abused them. That penalty came on top of a 60-year sentence for child pornography crimes.

Nassar was convicted of molesting female gymnasts — many Olympic athletes, some as young as 6 — for years under the guise of medical treatment.

His conviction has had reverberations across the sport. The entire board of U.S.A. Gymnastics resigned in the wake of the scandal. And Lou Anna K. Simon, the president of Michigan State University, where Nassar served on the faculty for years, resigned last week under intense scrutiny for the university’s lack of oversight.

The Texas Tribune provided this story.

Emma Platoff is a breaking news reporter at The Texas Tribune. She previously worked at the Tribune as a reporting fellow and is a recent graduate of Yale University, where she studied English literature and nonfiction writing. She has also worked as the managing editor of the Yale Daily News and as an intern at The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Hartford Courant.