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The Sexual Abuse of Gymnasts: It Could Have Been Me

Injuries Are Commonplace

Injuries Are Commonplace

How Do I Know? I Was There...

Today, the world of women's competitive gymnastics in the United States is not only wildly popular and hugely successful - it is also a multimillion dollar corporation.

USAGymnastics, the governing body - is a force to be reckoned with and respected world-wide - as are the coaches and gymnasts themselves!

It wasn't always this way, however.

Buckle up as I crack a window on the gritty world of high-level women's gymnastics in a time when parents were discouraged - if not expressly forbidden - to attend practices or ask too many questions, signed contracts agreeing to dangerously low caloric intakes - and generally fawned over, and catered to their daughter's coaches in the hopes of advancing their Olympic dreams.

How do I know?

I was there...

During this time frame, circa 1975 - I was a 14 year old gymnast innocently pursuing my own Olympic dreams. I was the second Canadian ever to be invited to train at The National Academy of Artistic Gymnastics in Eugene, Oregon.

And as I recently discovered - I was very, VERY lucky!

Just 850 miles down the road horrific things were being done to girls just like me!

In the Beginning..

In 1972, after once again being crushed at the Munich Olympic Games - training methods in the United States changed dramatically. Facilities began to emerge that were laser-focused on one thing only - producing champions! To do this - they implemented the successful - yet brutal - training tactics employed by Eastern European countries.

Successful, brutal - and for the most part - secret.

Two such fledgling facilities were the above mentioned National Academy of Artistic Gymnastics - founded in 1973 by Richard Mulvihill - and Flairs Gymnastics Club - founded in 1972 by Douglas Boger in Pasadena California.

These two new-world facilities - just 850 miles apart - were both very high profile on the international stage of competitive women's gymnastics - and still are!

When Bela Karolyi - Romanian coach of Nadia Comaneci - defected in 1981 - he coached at Flairs.

It was time for the United States to own the podium - and very soon - they would.

This sudden transition also inadvertently created an environment in which Coach Boger - attaining hero status as founder, coach, AND former national champion - was so easily able to physically and sexually abuse his elite gymnasts decade after decade.

After decade!

It turns out that this beloved Olympic level coach spent as much time grooming them for sex - as he did grooming them for international competition!

Where There's Smoke...

In 1982, two Flairs gymnasts worked up the courage to swear out complaints of physical and sexual abuse against their very powerful, respected, and charismatic coach - Doug Boger. While they ashamedly whispered tales of on-going rape, sodomy and forced fellatio, charges were reduced to simple aggravated physical abuse and battery against a minor.

Remember - this was a time of innocence - where the idea of a child sexual predator assuming the role of mentor or coach was unthinkable. The prosecution didn't believe they had any chance of making such incredulous charges stick.

Even more astounding is the fact that parents of other gymnasts financed his defense and stood up for him as character witnesses. Two more gymnasts were forced to perjure themselves on the stand after Boger threatened them with being thrown off the team.

Of course - he was found innocent of all charges and without missing a beat - proceeded directed back to Flairs to coach the now helpless and terrified little girls.

The abuse escalated.

There was one other important mitigating factor to his being found innocent: The dangerous nature of the sport itself and the harsh training methods accepted at the time.

After all - physical abuse was the name of the game! It and the sport of gymnastics went together like peanut butter and chocolate. Laurel and Hardy. Black and blue.

Bruises and broken bones were every day occurrences.

Was it Possible?

WAS it possible to prove which injuries were 'normal' - and which were from being lifted off the floor by the throat and choked against a wall? Or from being repeated kicked in the stomach? Or poked with toothpicks?

WAS it possible to determine which injuries were simply sport-related - and which were from having one's breast or inner thigh tissue viciously twisted - or from being burnt with a cigarette?

The governing body that would have been able to discern these differences - the USAG - opted to NOT perform an internal investigation into the charges. It was in their best interests to deny, or ignore any wrong-doing.

After all - Doug Boger produced champions. Champions in turn fill coffers.

Just like so many other stories of this nature - money trumped the welfare of children!


Rape, Sodomy, Forced Fellatio

Finally, in 2008 - a DOZEN ex-gymnasts - some of whom national and world champions - came forward to once again accuse Doug Boger of rape, sodomy, forced fellatio and long term abuse.

He was still a celebrated coach of young female athletes!

Even after coming forward a second time - decades after the ridiculous 3 year statute of limitations had expired - the USAG still named Boger their 2009 National Coach of the Year, and he went on to represent the organization - AND the country - as the National Team Coach at the 2009 World Championships.

Finally, in 2010, the USAG placed Boger on their 'Permanently Ineligible List' - disallowing him coaching privileges in any USAG affiliated gyms or competitions.

Non-USAG Affiliated Gyms

That leaves non-USAG affiliated gyms - and there are plenty of them around! No doubt there's one in YOUR neighborhood!

And YOURS!

The USAG says they have no control whatsoever over what happens in non-affiliated gyms - nor over who does, or does not, work there!

Coach Boger simply took his show on the road to Art Sports Gymnasium in Colorado Springs - where he continued to train young girls until he was let go in September, 2011.

When a concerned parent of a child training at the Colorado Springs facility kept inquiring as to why Boger was on the USAG 'Ineligible' list (findings of investigations are kept confidential) - he was given no information and was even told to stop his bothersome questions!

By law, the list of names is on the USAG website - somewhere. Good luck trying to find it!

Who's interests are this powerful governing body protecting?

Certainly not those of our children!

Doug Boger could very possibly be coming soon to a gymnasium near YOU!

Gabby Douglas: USA GOLD

Gabby Douglas: USA GOLD

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Comments

Demas W Jasper from Today's America and The World Beyond on June 15, 2020:

Here's hoping your 59th year is treating you better than some gymnastics coaches and physicians treated some of your contemporaries! I just read this for the first time while checking your activity here on HP. Nice to see you still post here occasionally, even though this one was some time back.

Karen Silverman (author) on May 30, 2015:

Think about this. Pedophiles gravitate to kids. They're most likely to be school bus drivers, boy scout leaders, camp counsellors, soccer or gymnastic coaches...etc

Shannon Henry from Texas on May 29, 2015:

Scary stuff there. It truly is scary to think of how often things like this happen to children when trusted adults are not so trustworthy.

Karen Silverman (author) on March 10, 2014:

Hi D! I just got an email the other day of someone defending this moron...

He's banned from coaching - finally - in 2010

these girls went thru hell and are still doubted..

can you imagine your own parents discounting rape - for olympic glory???

Dianna Mendez on February 25, 2014:

I popped in our page and saw this article which caught my eye. With all the coming hype on the Brazil Olympics, we never really catch what may transpire behind the scenes for these young athletes. This is a tragic story. Sadly, this man may never truly pay for his horrific acts of abuse. I am sharing this so that parents keep tabs on their children's activities in relation to their trainers. Blessings, dear lady.

Karen Silverman (author) on January 06, 2013:

@B.Leekley: Hmmm...my apologies for being tardy in responding, but - i am quite sure i already responded to your comment...

I agreed re; statues being a factor..

going to look on hub...

Thanks for taking the time, B.Leekley!

Brian Leekley from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on January 05, 2013:

ImKarn23, I googled on

sexual abuse civil suits

and the first result was

A Guide to Civil Actions for Survivors of Sexual Assault

located at

ivilactionforsurvivorsofsa DOT pdf

(with the expected c at the start missing). It's a publication of a North Dakota coalition against sexual assault, and it shares information from other groups elsewhere.

The search result

Sexual Abuse Civil Lawsuits That Have Gone to Trial

located at

bishop-accountability DOT org/legal/civil_trials DOT htm

seems to suggest that statutes of limitations are a factor in civil suits, too.

Karen Silverman (author) on January 04, 2013:

@B.Leekley: I believe the statute has been extended but not nearly enough...if i'm not mistaken it has been raised to the age of 18 for minors - which would have given these girls 3 - 5 extra years...STILL not enough...

I'm not sure about civil suits...nobody mentioned them..

thanks sooo much for sharing - if we don't share - our words die in the hub - where most seem highly evolved to begin with...

Have a wonderful day in Kalamazoooooooo...(lol..)

Brian Leekley from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on January 03, 2013:

Up, Useful, Interesting, shocking, and shared with followers and on social networking sites.

So a three year statute of limitations prevents criminal charges for acts he is accused of doing longer ago than that, but what about civil suits or a class action suit?

Karen Silverman (author) on November 03, 2012:

@HLPhoenix: This hub - went viral - for me - it's got the most views by THREE TIMES the closest - i wish i knew how i did that, tho..

i think i have to combine the following words, 'gymnastics, rape, and sex'...

Hmmmmm..

thinkthink...

lol

HLPhoenix on November 03, 2012:

Re-read this just now... the first time I think I was in shock. This is so well written, hard hitting and so important to get out. Apparently, there are no sports or other 'group' activities for children be it Scouts or Church etc. anywhere kids are under the control of adults... that these child molesters can't be found... it must be terrifying to be a parent today... so glad you were 800+ miles North of that particular creep. Sharing, again.

Karen Silverman (author) on October 27, 2012:

@Eiddwen: I wish i could send this to every single parent who has a child in sports - NOT just gymnastics! The fact is that people who want to do harm to children - are drawn to where children congregate..

Football coaches, gymnastics, boy scouts, or brownies - it makes no difference!

It's everywhere - and the more you think a person's a hero - the more you need to dig deeper...

Thanks for stopping by, dear...

Eiddwen from Wales on October 27, 2012:

Thank you so much for sharing this awful but sadly so true daily cruelty.

We need to tell all out there and thank you for sharing with us on here.

Have wonderful weekend.

Eddy.

Karen Silverman (author) on October 23, 2012:

@Alwaysexploring: Hi, Ruby - so nice to see you - even under these....circumstances...

That's the problem - with this situation and SOOOO many other (think Pennstate) - the powers that be have the ability to keep it secret - and people (parents and kids) are at HUGE risk...

It's societal and there's more and more of it - not less and less..

sadly..

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on October 23, 2012:

This is scary stuff. I've never heard a word about it.How sad this happened and nothing was done. Keep writing. We need writers who tell it like it is and that's you...

Karen Silverman (author) on October 21, 2012:

@Realhousewife: i LOVE your passion, Kelly!

Keep it revving high - don't let the world knock it out of you - it looks awesome on ya!

Thanks for your time - and your outrage..

spread the word...

Kelly Umphenour from St. Louis, MO on October 21, 2012:

Omg...unbelievable.! How long can these kind of people operate? Decades this guy gets to be a pervert?

Great hub and comments - great job!

Karen Silverman (author) on October 02, 2012:

@CarlySullens: I will do that, my new scorpion friend...lol

Carly Sullens from St. Louis, Missouri on October 02, 2012:

ImKaren, I try to fight for justice. You might be interested in some of my hubs, since I live a kind of life, a Lifetime Original Movie ought to make.

I have passion, I am a Scorpio. :)

Karen Silverman (author) on October 02, 2012:

@CarlySullens: Mmmmm...i'm loving on your passion, my new friend! While reading your comment - i found myself wondering if you're a libra - your sense of justice seems righteously offended!

I like that in a woman! lol

Karen Silverman (author) on October 02, 2012:

@CrisSp: Nice to meet you Cris! I agree - anyone who commits or covers up a crime against a child should be locked up - all the way down - or UP - the line! Please, come again...

Karen Silverman (author) on October 02, 2012:

@DeborahBrooks: You and me both, my friend!

Carly Sullens from St. Louis, Missouri on October 02, 2012:

Thank you for taking time to write this and bring greater awareness to the horrendous abuse these girls suffered. It is appalling that adults turned a blind eye and worse stood up for him even though they new the truth for money and pride.

It is disgusting that our culture uses sex images, songs, and advertisements daily to get our attention, but when our attention is needed to defend against the innocence, manipulation and extortion we shy away from it. Why?

Why? Can we think, talk, watch sex, and yet can not talk and defend about sexual abuse?

Voted UP and SHARRING

CrisSp from Sky Is The Limit Adventure on October 02, 2012:

This is so sad and I'm so sorry for the victims of this filthy work. Good to know though that it didn't actually happen to you. Those evil heads should be locked up. And, this is why I salute writers from all walks of life--for being the voice behind those naïve souls.

Great job in writing this. Up and interesting.

Deborah Brooks Langford from Brownsville,TX on October 02, 2012:

Every time I read this I cry.. this happens all the time. it is so sad and it makes me mad!!..I am so glad this did not happen to you.. I am sharing

Debbie

Karen Silverman (author) on September 10, 2012:

@DimFlaxenwick: Hmmmm....mysterious! I'm sorry to hear about your friend! It is more rampant than anyone suspects! Thanks for taking the time, Dim!

Dim Flaxenwick from Great Britain on September 10, 2012:

Well done fr shouting this one out there!!!!!

I sort of knew , due to something that happened to someone close to me, but I had NO IDEA just how bad or how widespread the abuse coud be.

It´a crying shame - but a fantastic hub.

Karen Silverman (author) on September 05, 2012:

@Nighthag: Agreed. He's still coaching as far as i know..nice, eh?

K.A.E Grove from Australia on September 05, 2012:

champions at the price of pain, not a great legacy to stand behind...

It always breaks my heart to hear of people in power abusing those under them, but this one just made me angry. Its a terrible shame this man is not in prison where he clearly belongs!

Karen Silverman (author) on September 01, 2012:

@Girishpuri: Sigh, so true! A story that is sadly repeated too often...Thanks for the support, Giri!

Girish puri from NCR , INDIA on August 31, 2012:

A sad story, when a coach abuse his ward, and breaks the faith, a thought provoking stuff, votes up.

Karen Silverman (author) on August 31, 2012:

@DebbyBruck: Thanks for your concern, Debby! Things are being done as we speak to improve the situation..FINALLY...

Linda Rogers from Minnesota on August 31, 2012:

I'm sharing alright!

Debby Bruck on August 31, 2012:

Dear Karen. You're incredibly brave to speak out publicly regarding these events. I'm praying that you heal in body, mind and soul. Blessings, Debby

Karen Silverman (author) on August 17, 2012:

@MinnetonkaTwin: Knowledge is power, my friend! I had the opportunity of speaking with one of these brave women - and - she amazed me!

Share if you care...

Linda Rogers from Minnesota on August 16, 2012:

What is wrong with our society when were more concerned with our children winning and money and notoriety, in place of their welfare. This guy is a scum bag and I can't believe he's not in jail for what he's done. I feel so much for those courageous women that came forward only to see him continue his abuse. Thanks for the important information about this guy.

Karen Silverman (author) on August 15, 2012:

@CriticalMessage: You got that right! Win at any cost! didn't penn state teach us that fine lesson....again..i wonder how many times we need to be taught it before we actually LEARN it! Sigh..

Murphy from Chicagoland, Illinois on August 15, 2012:

Powerful stuff here 'K'... Parents need to care less about their own rewards gained through the associations created at the cost of their own child's well being.. Maybe actually care for the kid instead.. Greed is as much the parents motivations as it is the organizations. Parents using their kids in order to vicariously live own dreams through their children. Again, at any cost to achieve them... Feeding egos in order to maintain an elitist image gained through the expense of their children's well being... It happens in every sport... It is parents competing at parents at the parenting game.. They must win at all costs... Even at the cost of their own child's well being.. Pretty sickening on how obsessed people are with achieving the perception of being a winner, being responsible for, or associated with a winner.. At any cost...

Karen Silverman (author) on July 25, 2012:

@PDXKaraokeguy: very true - parents must be vigiliant! Knowledge is power! Thanks for taking the time, Karaoke guy!

Justin W Price from Juneau, Alaska on July 24, 2012:

ImKarn, and I'm not really sure how to change things unless we want to keep our children in our own homes in contact only with the parents at all times. I guess parents just need to be viligant

Karen Silverman (author) on July 08, 2012:

@Xstatic: Harsh training techniques: Yes - they were all in vogue then..lol..Abusive? I guess it depends who you ask - but - NO!

Jim Higgins from Eugene, Oregon on July 08, 2012:

Yes, I meant I hope that the cruelty and really harsh training techniques were not used in Eugene.

Karen Silverman (author) on July 08, 2012:

@Xstatic: He was never in eugene - i was. He was in california, colorado - and now? who knows..Thanks for taking the time, Xstatic. Knowledge is knowledge. It can make wary and protect! Now you know - and it's certainly not just him!

Jim Higgins from Eugene, Oregon on July 07, 2012:

Astounding story! I had never heard about any of this. I certainly hope that none of the abusive practices you write about ever happned at eth facility here in Eugene. The thought that he got away with it for so long is horrible. Excellent Hub!

Karen Silverman (author) on June 30, 2012:

@Kburns421: And...we wonder why sexual abuse victims often never come forward? Sigh...violated and then violated again by family and authorities that don't - or won't - believe..Thanks for taking the time to stop by!

kburns421 on June 30, 2012:

I've known for a while that sexual abuse is something that can happen in gymnastics, but this is HORRIBLE. I had more often heard about coaches groping athletes and claiming it as spotting, stuff like that, and felt glad that I had always had respectable coaches who never did any such thing. It's incredible though how it took so long to bring charges against that guy. That's horrible for all the gymnasts who had to deal with the abuse.

Karen Silverman (author) on June 13, 2012:

@Angelme566: Hi, Angel! HOPEFULLY, more parents are aware but - there's a long way to go. There have been some positive changes at the USAG which i shall be writing about shortly, but - they are far from enough to keep kids safe. Basically - they were pressured to make the changes due to the fact this is an olympic year..sigh..

Angelme566 on June 12, 2012:

Oh my God , so horrible , beast people ! This is just an outstanding hub ! Thanks for this , parents are aware now and must be aware that things like this happen in a place where we expect not to happen..I pity for these people , what soul they got ..

A very outstanding hub , as always only Karn can do it !

Karen Silverman (author) on June 04, 2012:

@Kenblair: Hi and welcome, Ken! I agree - it's hard to blame parents for being over-protective - it's the under-protective ones that concern me..

ken blair on June 03, 2012:

We sent out or children to sports to enjoy and be the best in what they do and not be treated terribly. It's something that's unacceptable. I can't blame why some parents are over-protective these days.

Karen Silverman (author) on May 22, 2012:

@Rahul0324: Welcome, and thank you for taking the time to come by! You have hit the nail on the head, Rahul - these monsters keep their victims quiet with guilt and fear. That's why it's rarely reported for years and years after the 'fact' - IF EVER! THAT'S why the ridiculous 3 year statute of Limitations MUST be extended to lifetime - just like with murder, because MURDER is what these people do to their victim's spirits!

Karen Silverman (author) on May 22, 2012:

@Sueswan: Hi, Sue! I share your disgust. I had the honor of speaking with Julie Whitman - the ex-Flairs gymnast who began the difficult and delicate process of contacting other ex-gymnasts to find what their experiences were. Many recalled only positive experiences, but, within a very short period of time - she had TEN women with very similar stories - and worse. Her parents helped pay boger's original defense costs in 1984. She wasn't a complainant at the time. What she told me made me sick - on a variety of levels - and will disscuss it in a 'follow-up' hub - as soon as i get home from my visit in the US..

Karen Silverman (author) on May 22, 2012:

@Writer20: Thanks for taking the time, Joyce! Nice to 'meet' you. Honestly? I'm more interested in getting this horror (and too many like it) out into the open so parents can be more vigilant - wherever possible!

Karen Silverman (author) on May 22, 2012:

@Dmop: It is sad and scary - but - honestly - it pisses me off most of all! These predators know where the 'soft spots' are - and they exploit them without hesitation. They should either spend the rest of their life in jail - amongst others who don't look fondly upon them - or they should just be put to sleep like rabid dogs. Period. Oooooo...did i just step on someone's rights? TOO BAD! Better their rights are breached than my children! Thanks for taking the time. Share with everyone - not just your brother...

Joyce Haragsim from Southern Nevada on May 21, 2012:

Wow! you were lucky not to go through a bad time. I never a dicky bird about these bad men.

Voted up and awesome, Joyce.

Sueswan on May 21, 2012:

Hi ImKarn23

It is beyond disgusting that this monster is still allowed to teach gymnastics. If I got my hands on him I would, well I better not say but he would regret the day he ever touched a poor innocent girl.

Jessee R from Gurgaon, India on May 21, 2012:

Scary story! You were really lucky not to be apart of this mess!

These kind of demonic people still live among us... difficult to find as they keep their victims succumbed to fear and horror of dire consequences!

The tale you have told has really stirred me..

dmop from Cambridge City, IN on May 20, 2012:

This is very sad and scary for our youth. I have a niece that does gymnastics, not in a special setting, just here locally in a small town, but it is still something to worry about. I will pass this info on to my brother.

Karen Silverman (author) on May 19, 2012:

@cleaner3: Hi, Michael! I will be back within the week - and NO - I will never leave you again! I promise..lol

cleaner3 from Pueblo, Colorado on May 18, 2012:

K, are you back i have missed your rapier words of wit. don't worry i still love you, and you know that.

please say you won't leave us again.!!!!

Karen Silverman (author) on May 18, 2012:

@PDXDkaraokeguy: Hi, Guy! I agree - it is sooo easy for predators. They place themselves in positions of trust. It's impossible to know who's who and what's what! Thanks for sharing!

Justin W Price from Juneau, Alaska on May 18, 2012:

That's a terrifying story and you were lucky indeed. It makes me sick how easy it is for predators to get away with their crimes. Perhaps the laws need to be revisited. Thanks for sharing this. I shared it as well.

Karen Silverman (author) on April 28, 2012:

@Phillydreamer: Hello, Jose...nice to see you. Here's the problem: every sexual deviant in the world is looking to work with kids - YOURS, MINE, OURS! They become the people we trust the most - the school bus driver, the cub scout leader, the football coach. They let sex offenders out of jail - for some reason i cannot for the life of me fathom - and leave others in power to do what they will..over and over and over again..

lovedoctor926 on April 26, 2012:

I've always loved to watch the summer Olympics and to be honest gymnastics was one of my favorite sports. This is such a degrading and horrific incident. I'm with you on this. I know that these girls are NOT lying. They're being sexually abused by this man. I never thought this type of thing could happen in this setting.. Where have I been all of my life right? I guess I'm sort of naïve in a way. I agree with Julie Whitman's views and your reply to her comment. Great minds do think alike. We need to take action and put a stop to all of this before it escalates out of control. We need to educate parents so that once they're aware of what's going on, they can support. It's important that parents read every single document carefully prior to signing.

Jose Velasquez from Lodi, New Jersey on April 26, 2012:

This is a crazy tale. I can imagine what other programs for children have the same stories. It makes you wonder how the world was able to let this go on for so long.

Karen Silverman (author) on April 26, 2012:

@Gmaoli: Hi, G! Thanks for taking an interest in this - it has become a bit of a 'mission' for me. I believe what these girls are saying - every single word. Having been in the same 'environment' as them - i know they couldn't make this stuff up. I believe there ARE girls being 'molested'(too gentle a word) even as we speak - and very possibly by this very man. WE can stop it, i believe - as this is an olympic year, and their image is very important to them! Please share the email address of this guy - and the gory details as well! The more the better! Let's ROLL!

Jay Miller on April 26, 2012:

I'd be kicking somebody's dog ass if I knew about it.

Gianandrea Maoli from South Carolina on April 25, 2012:

ImKarn23, I'm really glad I came across this story. This really is a heartbreaking tale. I was watching the women give an interview to a CNN reporter about the story and I'm just glad to see they are still able to maintain enough of their pride to speak out against this man. I don't know if the USAG knew exactly what was going on, but I'm just perplexed that they took so long to look into this. Where were they when this case was brought to court in the 80's? Granted, he was acquitted, but wouldn't the press coverage and public outrage at least compel them to look into this? I emailed them about my problem with their list, specifically about the fact that most of names on that list don't have an explanation as to why they are ineligible. In SC, the Bar Association will publicly post case law explaining why an attorney is sanctioned from practicing law. Obviously, organizations like the Bar Association are making sure the public is armed with knowledge about former members who could bring potential harm to the public, so shouldn't the USAG do the same?

I think what burns me the most is the idea that any grown adult would come after children like Boger seemed to do and just...well...frankly not seem to think it's wrong. Perhaps there's more to this story than we know, but I find it hard to believe that so many women would just make up something like this just to ruin someone's reputation. I hope there aren't more children being abused like this and if there are I really hope something is done to put a stop to it. Children are meant to be cared for and grown into happy, successful adults and not beaten or raped for someone else's need for pleasure and control!

Thank you for writing this and making us aware of this story. You took a great step in giving hopes to these kids that there are plenty of us good people out there to protect them.

Karen Silverman (author) on April 25, 2012:

@JulieWhitman: Julie, dear Julie - no thank you is required! I want to do whatever is required to get this waste of skin off the street - and any others like him! This HAS to begin with the USAG and if public embarrassment and humiliation is what they want - i am more than willing to give it to them! Please let me know what i can do to help! It IS an Olympic year, and maybe a little (or a LOT) of bad press may force them to do the right thing! Stranger things have happened. This venue has 10's of thousands of highly intelligent people from ALL walks of life! Their daughter or granddaughter may be next, and - i know they will do the right thing...whatever that may be! As mentioned in our private correspondence - YOU ARE MY HERO!

Dennis L. Page from New York/Pennsylvania border on April 25, 2012:

Voted up, awesome, interesting and useful. As the father of 3 adult women and who all took dance and ballet, your story was an eye opener. I never liked it when the instructors banned parents from practice. I always sat right outside the door and would peek through the cracks, just to keep an eye on things. I remember this Bolger arse vividly and was shocked when he was back coaching after all of the allegations made against him. Toothpicks? Heaven help the animal that would ever harm a hair on the head of any of my girls.

cleaner3 from Pueblo, Colorado on April 25, 2012:

Leslie you are back!! I have missed you rwords of truth and wisdom. Please say somting hard and wicked to me I need it.

Missed you

Michael

Karen Silverman (author) on April 25, 2012:

@Formerflair: It is just wrong, wrong, wrong! I am pissed, pissed, pissed! We need to get these powermonger sickos OFF the street, BUT - the biggest injustice is the USAG and their refusal to protect YOU, me, and them! I want to help! Tell me what i can do, who i can write..etc. THE USAG HAS DELETED THIS ARTICLE FROM THEIR HOMEPAGE TWICE NOW - within an hour of me posting it!!! They make it PERFECTLY clear where their priorities lie! Can you say M-O-N-E-Y? I know they can. You and your former teammates are my heroes - and i do not say this lightly! You make my experience at the NAAG seem like a walk in the park - which you know it was NOT! Peace, my friend. Walk proud!

Another Former Flair on April 21, 2012:

Thank you so much for posting what we have tried to relay to the public. Doug Boger's abuses span over a decade, maybe even two or three or more. It's telling that those of us who left in the mid seventies have identical stories to gymnasts who joined the team later. We may not have known each other back then, but we share a common experience that has brought us together .It's only after we united following the first published account--and more came forward with each story that came out-- that we became a team in the truest and healthiest sense of the word.

The abuse extends much further and deeper than is reported. There were more rapes and more horrifying accounts of physical abuse that what was on television or in print. During my time on Flairs, Boger made us tumble on concrete, jump off of roof tops and balconies (to "learn to land lighter") and forced some of our backs to arch beyond the physical limitations. Our choices (as we saw them back then) were to refuse his demands and be berated or beaten or proceed with the life endangering feats he demanded. For me, that resulted in a permanent physical disability. Some have relayed harrowing stories of having to stand on slippery rocks in the middle of raging river rapids and more. Other recount a tale of him hold a child out a fourth story window--threatening to drop her onto the concrete sidewalk below--that's just a couple of many such stories. For many of us, we deal with varying degrees of PTSD. But, mostly (and not stressed enough) we tell our tales, not for pity, but to raise awareness in many arenas--to the parents to be aware, to our elected officials to address child protection laws, to the organizations that govern amateur sports to put the child first and to society to demand a change in the culture of amateur sports and all that entails. The good of the gold should not come at such a high price--profit should never trump the well being of a child who depends on his/her coach to know his/her limitations and who trusts that coach, literally, with her/his life.

Did you watch the CNN piece? Steve Penny-the head of USAG--mentions how difficult the complaints were to pursue because Boger was acquitted in '82. The '82 trial had nothing to do with the 2008 letters to USAG. The complainants of the 1982 hung jury (who did not benefit from the testimonies of those who recently lodged complaints in 2008--I believe they were never subpoena'd to do so) were different than the recent ones. After the letters were sent, Boger received the USAG Coach of the Year Award and flew with Penny to Russia. Imagine how these ladies felt when their complaints were followed with such insult to injury.

There's a stigma that's attached with the admission of being victimized--a degree of humiliation-so it isn't easy to come forward. Intellectually we know that should not be the case. Sadly, it's a Scarlett Letter pinned on many victims. I only had the nerve to come forward because of strength in numbers--a courage found only because of my fellow team mates. Each and every Flair that had the courage to come forward deserves a gold medal--I am so honored to know them. While this brings up much pain, I believe it's helped in our healing--and people like you have also helped. Thank you, again.

Julie Whitman on April 21, 2012:

Thank you Leslie for this honest and hard hitting article. It's about time someone wrote about this with some emotion. I was one of the girls who's family paid for Doug's defense back in the 80s. His actions finally caught up with him. He can run but he cannot hide anymore. The world now knows what a monster he is/was. Doug Boger and Mike Zapp have become the poster children for what's wrong with the system. I mean really, how can a convicted sex offender own a gym and continue to send athletes to sanctioned events. Who are they hiding? Why hasn't the loophole been closed yet? And don't give me the lame excuse about the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act standing in your way. Now is the time for us to demand action. It's an Olympic year and they want us to go away. Email Steve Penny and demand changes. I'm sure he'd love to hear from you. SPENNY@usagym.org

Donna Hollingsworth on April 20, 2012:

The tragic thing is, even then, it was known. At my Gymnastic Academy all who worked with the kids were fingerprinted and a background check done. Most all of our local coached rideculed me for doing this. Yes, many of the coaches knew what was happening and efused to make waves. Sad it took so long for anyone to listen. Wake up USAG.

Former Flair on April 20, 2012:

Thank you so much for this well written article. This is the type of article we have been looking to get out that have the actual FACTS so that people will stand up and pay attention at what is happening. USAG needs to STAND UP and protect the athletes that are making them their money. They have let us former Flair's girls down over and over by trying to continually ignore the situation and push it under the rug in hopes that we will go away.

Beth100 from Canada on April 19, 2012:

Ha! How typical! Do they not realize that nothing (and, really NOTHING) can be erased off the net once it is published?!? Whitewashing, hiding their heads in the sand, ignoring the real issues -- where is their accountability and responsibility?!?

Sorry, have to rant because this enrages me!! I have zero tolerance for abuse!!

thechronicler on April 19, 2012:

Oh my god, this is horrible and so scary! I can't believe this monster is not locked up, and it is disgraceful and disgusting how USA Gymnastics has swept it under the rug all in the name of $$$. I've always liked to watch gymnastics whenever the Olympics rolls around every four years, and now I don't think I'll look at it the same way again. I guess I'm a bit naïve because I never would have imagined this. BTW I found your article through my Triond fan page--thank you for the add!

cleaner3 from Pueblo, Colorado on April 18, 2012:

Karin, I did miss you , I thought you left to florida, my sweet so happy to have you back. send me a note. Love you. Michael

Karen Silverman (author) on April 18, 2012:

@Oldpoolman: Neither did I, Poolman! I always championed 'my' sport as clean...focused on the endgame..i lost sleep...knowing doesn't make me happy..

Karen Silverman (author) on April 18, 2012:

@Robie2: Hi Robi-erta! lol Thanks for the encouragment, dear. The problem comes in when the light is shone - but those in power extinguish it. what then?

Karen Silverman (author) on April 18, 2012:

@GlstngRosepetals: Hi, Rose! (may i call you rose?) Please send me a link to your article, dear - and thanks for taking the time to read mine..

Karen Silverman (author) on April 18, 2012:

@MGSingh: Dunno if it's a 'trend' MG. I think this happens wherever the balance of power is askew. Glad you stopped by!

Karen Silverman (author) on April 18, 2012:

@Brianslater: thank YOU, Brian - for your continued support in pushing for it to get repub'ed! i won't forget..

Karen Silverman (author) on April 18, 2012:

@Rustimccollum: Hi, Rusti. Honestly? 'Enjoy' doesn't really come into play much at that level..lol..it's more like ajob by then..xx

Old Poolman on April 18, 2012:

I guess I am old enough to be naïve, but I had no idea this kind of stuff went on. Thanks for sharing so I am not only a day older, but also wiser tonight.

Karen Silverman (author) on April 18, 2012:

@Beth100: So perfectly right on, Beth! Welcome to my world! Did you happen to notice where i commented about how enraged i am that they removed this article from their homepage - within an hour of my posting it! (how bout reading something lighter now..lol..)

Beth100 from Canada on April 18, 2012:

Sickening. Not only coaches are abusive to their wards, we have teachers in schools doing the same to their students. Behind closed doors. One has already been released -- the student backed off from the charges -- effects of being threatened over years of abuse.

There are two crimes taking place. The obvious is the abuse on the girls. The second, is the blind eye that the governing body has provided plus allowing him to continue his "methods" of training young, innocent, defenceless girls. The governing body is just as guilty as the perpetrator.

Karen Silverman (author) on April 18, 2012:

@Americanview: Money, money, money...they seem to have no shame, AV - nor a conscience, considering them deleting this post from their homepage...OMG that really upset me..

Karen Silverman (author) on April 18, 2012:

@ESC: No doubt - considering that we now know that pedophiles are drawn to things like coaching children, brownies/boyscouts...that sort of thing! The people we have tended to trust the most - are the worst offenders! Upside down, inside out, ass backwards - but true..

Karen Silverman (author) on April 18, 2012:

@Marqjonz: HI, MARK! Awesome to see you here! Thanks for keeping it rolling!

Karen Silverman (author) on April 18, 2012:

@Billybuc: Thanks for the support, Billy! You know it's appreciated! Share if you Care!

Karen Silverman (author) on April 18, 2012:

@Lovedoctor926: Whatup, Doc? It's widely accepted that womens gymnastics is in the top 3 for danger. And in the top 1 for youth. Tee em up, Prosecutor Doc - knock em outta the ball park!

Karen Silverman (author) on April 18, 2012:

@Fyrfytr234: S, You know my thoughts on this. While barring parents from practices may have been a recipe for disaster - the parents blind willingness to do so - also plays a big role. Would you let your daughter do gymnastics where the head coach had been on trial for abuse? Of any kind? Even if he got off? i would NEVER, and yet - they did. Fault is not reserved for the USAG!

greed comes in many guises..xx(X)

Karen Silverman (author) on April 18, 2012:

@Jessica: Hi, Jessica! i, too, am outraged. I championed my sport as 'clean'. This blew me away, still! Please keep the message going! I swear if this brings awareness to one gymnast - or more importantly - one gymnasts PARENT - i'll be much happier!

Karen Silverman (author) on April 18, 2012:

@Kashmir56: Could not have said it better! Trusting is definitely the perfect word..

Karen Silverman (author) on April 18, 2012:

@Deborahbrooks: You saw a movie about this particular case, D?? I'd sure like to know what the name was! These girls 'came out' in 2008, so, it's possible! Please let me know if you remember. How ya feeling today? Better, me hopes!

Karen Silverman (author) on April 18, 2012:

@AKTurner: Honored, coming from you, J! I don't write much about my life, but, now you know a part of it that made a HUGE impact on my life. It still influences every decision i make. AND - that's just the intensity of the training itself - can you only imagine adding methodical abuse into the formula? I canNOT!

Karen Silverman (author) on April 18, 2012:

@Bobbycra: Yessiree, Bob(by)! Don't i know it - it's half the reason it kept me up nights. And you're so right, bobby - no matter how many medals and trophies - they won't ever get over this!

Karen Silverman (author) on April 18, 2012:

@Cleaner3: O, Michael, it feels so futile! Thanks so much for your support, but, i'm disappointed..and VERY distressed - that a governing body that is supposed to protect it's athletes - is clearly to this very day - only interested in protecting their own ASSets. It makes me feel very heavy. There are those that would say - ya know - i did my best..more than most..yada yada. then WHY doesn't it feel better?