"He's put a black-eye on the sport of gymnastics," Local coach talks Nassar sentencing

Mental health doctor shares signs of abuse
Posted at 12:11 AM, Jan 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-27 00:21:48-05

It’s the middle of meet season at Rebounders Gymnastics Center in Timonium.

The hard-working young athletes are focused on nailing their tucks and twists.

Coach Heather Jordan is busy, there’s a lot of kids bouncing around and she wants to give them everything they need to succeed.

"The goal of winning medals or going to the Olympics or winning meets or anything like that, that's not our primary focus,” said Jordan.  “We definitely are trying to develop the child, and it just so happens that gymnastics is our medium."

Gymnastics has always been a part of Jordan’s life. Like so many people in America, she’s disgusted that Larry Nassar used the guise of medicine to leave such a lasting scar on young athletes and the sport she loves.

"It's heartbreaking its disgusting its deplorable it's a violation against nature,” said Jordan. “It's not what any of us are in this sport for."

It’s hard for her to hold back her disdain for the man whose been the focus of over 150 sexual abuse victim testimonies.

"We know that USA gymnastics has a lot of questions to answer. They owe everything to those gymnasts that they let down."

At Rebounders there is no one on time between athlete and adult, and they pride themselves on their open door policy.

“We love that our families can view anything going on in our facility,” said Jordan. “Whether it be through the glass out in the gym. We have tv monitors where our cameras are positioned so they can see where their children are and what they’re doing.”

She’s talking about the case with parents, and some of the children.

“The kids, the younger ones I don't think it's really on their radar right now. Some of the older girls, some of my teenage girls do have questions. We talk about it because we need them to feel comfortable bringing that kinda stuff up."

Julia Knach, the Mental Health Clinic Supervisor at Baltimore Child Abuse Center, said talking is the most valuable tool we have to stop abuse.

“This is how a doctor should examine you, this is not how a doctor should examine you,” said Knach.  “Go over what seems like we should remember to do but keep reiterating it.  Keep saying “touching you here touching you in your private parts” anywhere that makes you uncomfortable is not okay and have the children tell them."

She said there are obvious signs of sexual abuse in children things like Advanced knowledge of sexual behaviors and sexual language that isn't age appropriate.

"Avoiding people that have abused them, avoiding places that remind them or where they've been abused,” said Knach. “Withdrawn behavior, so becoming more isolated not wanting to do activities they normally like to do."

You never blame a victim, fear is what keeps them from speaking up.

"Fear of not being believed. For so long kids weren't believed that kids make these things up and maybe 2-10 percent of kids make these things up and that's maybe stretching the percentages. Kids are afraid or there's retaliation that if you speak up I'm going to hurt your mommy and daddy or your whoever is going to go to jail and you’re going to be blamed for this,"

It's that fear that Nassar used to get away with abusing over 150 young athletes for so many years.

Now it’s the courage to speak out that coach Jordan sees pushing the sport she loves to a brighter future.

"Watching them overcome fears watching them develop that confidence in themselves learning how to problem solve,” said Jordan. “That perseverance, not giving up when something is challenging. Knowing that they have people whether it be their teammates or couches to back them up when their struggling."

For more information on the Baltimore Child Abuse Center click here.