Ex-trainer in sex assault had prominent USA Gymnastics roles

June 29, 2018 GMT

DETROIT (AP) — A former trainer who was charged Friday with sexual assault at the famed Karolyi gymnastics ranch in Texas had various roles in training programs, according to information on USA Gymnastics’ website.

Debbie Van Horn worked alongside disgraced sports doctor Larry Nassar, who was sentenced to decades in prison this year after hundreds of women and girls said he sexually assaulted them under the guise of medical treatment. Van Horn, 63, was indicted Friday on one count of second-degree sexual assault of a child; Nassar was indicted on six counts.


USA Gymnastics issued a statement saying Van Horn is no longer an employee.

According to a news release on its website, Van Horn was part of a youth development camp for gymnasts in 2016.

She was listed as a member of the USA Gymnastics Medical Task Force , which was started in 2013. The task force was established to provide leadership and oversight of USA Gymnastics’ practices, procedures and protocols regarding athlete care.

She also was involved with care of athletes on the 2014 JumpStart National Team for athletes ages 8-10.

Those roles put Van Horn in contact with potentially dozens of young athletes, like Nassar victim Mattie Larson, who said at his sentencing in January in Michigan that Van Horn “would be in the room many of the times” Nasser abused her.

“If a trainer, a professional trainer, doesn’t say anything about it, I should trust her,” Larson said. “At least that’s what I thought.”

The Associated Press could not find a working number for Van Horn. Court records do not list an attorney who could comment on her behalf.

Asked for specifics about the allegations against Van Horn, Walker County District Attorney David Weeks said only that she was charged as “acting as a party” with Nassar. USA Gymnastics said it had no information about the basis for the charge filed against her.

“We are sorry that any athlete was harmed during his or her gymnastics career,” the organization, which trains Olympians, said in a written statement. “The best way to honor the incredibly brave women who spoke out about Larry Nassar is to demonstrate every day our commitment to doing everything possible to prevent this from happening again.”


For the latest developments on the allegations against Debbie Van Horn and Larry Nassar: https://bit.ly/2tF6rOz