'At the Heart of Gold': 3 Key Findings of HBO's USA Gymnastics Scandal Doc

John Russell
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Between July 2017 and February 2018, former USA Gymnastics national team doctor and Michigan State University osteopath Larry Nassar was convicted of a dizzying number of criminal acts, including sexual assault and possession of child pornography.

You've probably seen news clips of the emotional survivors detailing to a packed courtroom how his abuse damaged their lives. (Team USA's "Fierce Five" from the 2012 Olympics, above, are among Nassar's accusers.) This new HBO documentary examines how he got away with abusing hundreds of victims, some as young as 6, for so long.

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Director Erin Lee Carr walks us through some of the film's key insights. 

Nassar Found the Perfect Hunting Ground

In intimate interviews, parents, coaches, and former athletes describe the pressure gymnasts feel to endure physical pain and never complain. They're also accustomed to having adult hands on their bodies, adjusting their position and helping them stretch.

The result: a culture in which most young women assumed that what Nassar was doing to them was normal.

(HBO)

"He was seen as quite nice, quite gentle," Carr says.

Colleagues Looked the Other Way

Over the years, Nassar worked with various professionals who, survivors say, must have known what was going on.

Former U.S. Olympic coach John Geddert is under investigation, while an ex–MSU gymnast alleges in her interview that coach Kathie Klages — who is facing criminal charges — intimidated her into silence after being told of the abuse.

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The winning gymnast works the sidelines of the kid version of the reality competition spin-off.

Klages "did not tell authorities," says Carr. "But she did tell Larry Nassar."

Some Parents Were in the Room

Carr talks to moms who describe their guilt over trusting Nassar so much, they didn't recognize what was happening right in front of them during doctor visits.

(HBO)

"This is not about parents lacking due diligence," Carr says. Nassar "was a master manipulator who perfected how to do this. That's what makes this case so shocking."

At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics ScandalDocumentary Premiere, Friday, 8/7c, HBO