Samantha Peszek Says Larry Nassar's Trial Led To Her Getting Death Threats & It's Chilling
On Wednesday, for USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to between 40 and 175 years in prison, having pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting underage girls, as well as having been convicted on child pornography charges. As the Indianapolis Star reports, a former Olympic gymnast who says she was not abused by Nassar, Samantha Peszek, says she got "rape and death wishes" throughout the course of the trial.
Nassar has been accused of sexual assault and molestation by nearly 200 women, including multiple members of recent U.S. Olympic gymnastics teams, like Gabby Douglas, Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, and Jordyn Wieber. The latter two gave powerful and widely seen statements at Nassar's sentencing hearing, describing their experiences and condemning Nassar.
Peszek is not among Nassar's accusers, however, and in an Instagram post on Wednesday, she recounted receiving the "death & rape wishes" throughout the trial, and said she felt regret and heartbreak listening to Nassar's victims tell their stories.
Peszek's mother Luan, according to the Star, is the vice president of program development for USA Gymnastics. and the organization is currently under intense scrutiny and criticism over how Nassar's years of sexual abuse were allowed to continue.
Peszek's Instagram post included a caption detailing her reaction to the scandal and trial, as well as the detail about the abusive messages she and her family have received.
"My heart is saddened by everything that has come to light in the gymnastics community. Not a day goes by without thinking of the survivors, many of whom are personal friends. I’ve listened to their stories in the courtroom & felt my heart break w/ every word hearing what they had to go through," she wrote.
"I find myself overwhelmed by the pain these women have dealt with, inspired by their incredible bravery and strength & personally ashamed for how I imagine my own part in this terrible saga," she continued.
"Ashamed, because I was one of hundreds of people manipulated into believing this monster was the “good guy." Ashamed, because I have often credited him with saving my Olympic dreams by putting my body back together time and time again. Guilty that I didn't see any signs or discover a way to stop him & guilty that it took this long for consequences to be handed out."
Peszek noted her family's background with USA Gymnastics, and called for "changes" to increase transparency and "promote safer environments." Last week, USA Gymnastics announced that it would no longer be holding camps at the Karolyi Ranch in Texas, a world-famous training site where some of Nassar's victims say he assaulted them.
The owners of the ranch, famed gymnastics coaches Bela and Marta Karolyi, denied having any knowledge of Nassar's actions through a statement from their attorney to People.
Finally, Peszek acknowledged the anger that's been directed at her family in the caption, including what she called "disgusting vitriol."
"This situation has sparked so much anger & the responses to that anger have been positive & negative—positive bc necessary changes are already being implemented & negative in the death & rape wishes & disgusting vitriol that has been sent to my family & me," Peszek wrote. "Although such outrage is warranted, I know there will be healing as well; healing that will hopefully begin once this terrible person is put behind bars for good."
Back in Aug. 2016, The Indianapolis Star published an explosive report alleging that USA Gymnastics was brushing off accusations of sexual assault by coaches. Subsequently, Rachael Denhollander sent an email to the journalists behind the report, telling them that she'd been molested by Nassar as a 15-year-old. Having been the first voice to speak out about Nassar, Denhollander was the final speaker at his sentencing hearing on Wednesday.