Former Olympic gymnast Tasha Schwikert told ABC News Thursday that she was “manipulated” by former USA Gymnastics President Steve Penny into supporting the organization while they grappled with the scandal of Larry Nassar, the USA Gymnastics doctor who pleaded guilty to sexually abusing young female patients. Schwikert claims that at that time, Penny called her and asked if she had ever been abused by Nassar. And although Schwikert claims that the disgraced doctor abused her more than 100 times between [200 and 2005], she said no. She explained to ABC that at the time, she didn’t feel ready to come forward. Penny allegedly asked her to give a statement about her “positive experience” with Nassar, which she refused to do—but she agreed to put her name to a pre-written statement supporting USA Gymnastics.
“[Penny] contacted me at probably one of the most vulnerable times of my life,” Schwikert said, noting that she was preparing to take the bar exam while pregnant and raising her daughter. “I hadn’t even addressed or acknowledged my personal skeletons with Larry... I just felt indebted to [Penny]. Basically, because I was so vulnerable, he was able to manipulate me into just signing off on a statement that they drafted for me.” As The Daily Beast reported previously, Penny was arrested Thursday for allegedly tampering with evidence in the Nassar case.