Governor Greg Abbott is ordering the Texas Rangers to open a criminal investigation into the Karolyi Ranch. That’s the Hunstville area gymnastics facility that’s long served as the training ground for Team USA. Several gymnasts who came forward accusing former team doctor Larry Nassar of sexually abusing them say that abuse took place at the ranch.
The Texas Rangers will join an ongoing investigation by the Walker County Sheriff’s department, which began investigating the facility earlier this month.
Terri Langford, an investigative reporter with the Dallas Morning News, says Bela and Marta Karolyi have owned the ranch since the late 1980s.
“They had tried to sell it to Team USA two years ago, and that sale was about to go through when about a year ago, they decided to scrap the sale,” she says.
The timing coincided with the emerging abuse allegations. Through the legal proceedings, the Karolyis have been quiet.
“There hasn’t been any kind of statement from them, full access interview or anything like that, since this has been developing in court in Michigan,” she says.
Langford says it’s not clear what the Rangers will be looking for in their investigation.
One issue could be that Dr. Larry Nassar, the doctor at the center of the abuse scandal, had been practicing in Texas without a medical license – though Langford says Nassar had a license in Georgia, Michigan, and Colorado.
“That’s an interesting gray area of Texas law,” Langford says. “Every week you have visiting professional teams and college teams that come to Texas to compete and they usually come with an army of trainers and doctors, their own doctors. And technically they can’t practice in Texas without a license, but they do. According to the Texas Medical Board there’s never been a problem with the set up, but in the last legislative session, Senator Don Huffines has tried to shore that up, if you will, by giving them permission to practice within 10 days of an event.”
However, that bill never made it into law.
Written by Jen Rice.