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Olympic gymnast, among first to accuse former MSU doctor of abuse, speaks out against gag order

Apr 19, 2017

Four more former patients are suing former Michigan State University sports doctor Larry Nassar for sexual abuse, including a 14-year-old dancer.

Meanwhile, an Ingham County judge recently issued a revised gag order that bars witnesses named in one of Dr. Nassar's criminal trials from speaking publicly. 

There are now more than 80 other women and girls who claim the former MSU doctor abused them under the guise of "treatment."

One of the first women to accuse Nassar of sexual abuse is Jamie Dantzscher of California. She was a member of the bronze-medal-winning American gymnastics team at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.

Dantzscher has testified before Congress about Nassar, saying she had been abused "all over the world," and that she thought she was the only one.

A judge recently ruled that the alleged victims who are named as witnesses in one of Nassar's criminal trials are not allowed to speak publicly about the case, in an effort to ensure Nassar receives a fair trial. The lawyers in the case argue this is a violation of the First Amendment.

Dantzscher joined Stateside to talk about her reaction to the gag order, and why she came forward in the first place. 

"My first thought was disbelief," Dantzscher said about her reaction to the gag order. "I'm still really disappointed. I feel like I can't talk to anybody about this, including my parents or my family or my friends. It was so hard to come forward and speak up in the first place, and now feeling like I can't even talk about it with my own family. It's definitely a shock and it feels unfair and doesn't feel right."

Dantzscher made the U.S. junior national team when she was 12 years old, and first met Nassar when she was 13. He was friendly, made her laugh, and they had a good relationship. 

During training, Dantzscher suffered a hip injury and would see Nassar for treatment. Then, she said, over time, Nassar's procedures "became more invasive."

After telling her parents, Dantzscher became one of the first to come forward to accuse Nassar of sexual abuse. She said it was not easy.

She was worried no one would believe her, and there were some within the gymnastics community who didn't. Dantzscher was harassed on social media, and her character was attacked by people she used to call friends. But as more and more women followed her lead and came forward, the harassment decreased. 

Dantzscher said she found the courage to come forward to let other women know that they are not alone, and to try to prevent this from happening to others. 

"When I looked at my nieces and thought about that happening to one of them, I decided, this isn't right what [Nassar] did with sexual abuse and I want to speak up so other survivors can come forward and I want to protect as many people that I can," Dantzscher said. "All the other little girls that I've coached over the years as well. I didn't feel right about being silenced anymore because I didn't want this happening to anybody else." 

Listen to the full interview above to hear Dantzscher's opinion of Michigan State University's response to this situation, and what justice would look like for her.

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