Parents of Larry Nassar sexual abuse victims: "How do you guard from a doctor?"

Parents of Nassar abuse victims share pain
Parents of Nassar abuse victims share pain 09:25

Former Olympic team doctor Larry Nassar will spend the rest of his life in prison. More than 250 women and girls, including Olympic gymnasts, accused him of sexual abuse. Their parents say the nightmare is not over yet. 

They hold others responsible, including Michigan State University (MSU) where Nassar was physician, former MSU gymnastics coach Kathie Klages, the Karolyi Ranch where top U.S. gymnasts trained and Nassar practiced, the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics.

"CBS This Morning" co-host Norah O'Donnell spoke with parents of five of his victims: Gina and John Nichols, whose daughter Maggie Nichols was a member of the USA Gymnastic team for five years; Lisa Lorincz whose daughter Kaylee was a club gymnast; Doug and Julie Powell whose daughter, Kassie, was a pole vaulter at Michigan State University; Kyle Keiser who took her daughter, Sterling Riethman, to Nassar after she was injured; and Christy Lemke-Akeo whose daughter, Lindsey, currently competes as a gymnast at MSU and was first assaulted at 10 years old.  

Tempers erupted last week at Nassar's third trial when a dad, Randall Margraves, tried to attack Nassar in the courtroom. While the parents we spoke with are angry, they all agreed the most important thing to change is the system.

(L to R) Kyle Keizer, Julie Powell, Doug Powell, Christy Lemke, Lisa Lorincz, Gina  Nichols, John Nichols, and Norah O'Donnell CBS News

NORAH O'DONNELL: We saw Randall Margraves rush him. … Did you understand where he was coming from?

DOUG POWELL: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. If I thought that, for a second, that it would have done anything positive to -- he was from me to you. To rush him and choke him out, what good's that gonna do me? What's that -- good-- was that gonna do for Cassie?

KYLE KEISER: We saw people in many different stages of grief.


KYLE KEISER: So when we saw Mr. Margraves, at least for my reaction, I was just so sad. I was just so sad that it's like-- it's not my reaction, but I understood his. … Because you knew, in the continuum of emotions that we're all having, we've all been there.

NORAH O'DONNELL: When your daughters first told you about this, was it hard for you at first to believe them?



DOUG POWELL: It was difficult for us… You know, we talked to our kids as they grew up and coming from a law enforcement background and perspective, nothing ever good happens after midnight. You know, "Go home. Don't do this. Don't do this. Be conscious of what you're doing." How do you guard from a doctor? How do you put that guard in your daughter's mind? It's saddening and sickening.

JULIE POWELL: I don't think for us it was as much as not believing her, but not believing that something like that could've happened. … I was in the room when he was doing the treatment. And he positioned them such that -- I mean, I even stood up. I'm a nurse. I stood up to see what he was doing. And I'm-- I said, "What are you massaging right now?" And he said, "We just have to-- to loosen those tendons, ligaments, muscles in that area and that will help the scoliosis that you have in your back." Kassie told me immediately when we got in the car. She's, like, "I am never going back there again." I said, "Why?" And she said, "He had his hand inside me." And he talked her back into letting him do that. He made it seem like without this area adjusted, she would never be able to be the pole vaulter she wanted to be.

KYLE KEISER: He had done good work with her from the age 10 to 13 as a gymnast. Became a diver, broke her back as a diver. Had gone several places for help. And she was home one time and I'm, like, "Let's go to Larry." That was my moment. You know, that he'd fixed her before. [CRYING] So. Excuse me. So when she went and had a bro-- we don't even know what it is. None of us know. A broken back, a broken tailbone. … So when he described what he was gonna have to do and, like, it'll be pretty invasive, I'm going, "Whatever we have to do. I want my child out of pain. If this is gonna work, let's go." 

Mother speaks out on Larry Nassar 00:43

NORAH O'DONNELL: What was it like knowing something was wrong?

DR. JOHN NICHOLS: Well, for us, it was horrible because -- and for me, I'm a failure. You know, my job is to protect my baby girl. And I didn't do it. And so that's something that we're gonna live with forever. … We had no other choice. You know, we had to turn our daughter over to the U.S. Gymnastics. We were told that… "We'll take care of Maggie. Don't worry about Maggie." … When we traveled at meets we couldn't go to the hotel. We couldn't stay at the hotel. We could not be in any situation to help protect our daughter. We had to fully turn over trust to these people.

NORAH O'DONNELL: Do you think that was by design?

DR. JOHN NICHOLS: Yes. No question.

NORAH O'DONNELL: More than just to build these super competitors?

DR. JOHN NICHOLS: No question.

NORAH O'DONNELL: To what, cover up abuse?

DR. JOHN NICHOLS: I don't know. I mean, I don't know. But there's so much more to this that needs to be found out because each and every one of them are intertwined. 

Father of Nassar abuse survivor speaks out 00:40

NORAH O'DONNELL: Sen. Jeanne Shaheen… said, "This is not a simple case of negligence or failed oversight on the part of the USOC, USA Gymnastics and other institutions. There is ample evidence that many were alerted multiple times to Nassar's behavior and they found excuses to look the other way."

CHRISTY LEMKE-AKEO: Yeah. That's Kathie Klages and the people at Michigan State who were alerted back in the '90s. And, you know, if you think about it, Lindsey would never have been abused had they taken action back at that point, because she was only two.

KYLE KEISER: Not one of our daughters.



KYLE KEISER: When you look at this collection right here, our daughters would not have walked through those doors. 

NORAH O'DONNELL: If other parents come to you and say, "What should I do to make sure this doesn't happen to my daughter?" What do you tell 'em?

JOHN NICHOLS: Believe her. Speak up.


LISA LORINCZ: Teach them that if something doesn't feel right, no matter who it is, to say, "I'm not comfortable with this, and I need you to stop."

JOHN NICHOLS: I think one other thing that you'd tell your daughter, you'd have to tell 'em, "Don't trust anyone." You can't trust the church. You can't trust your priest. You can't trust your coach.

KYLE KEISER: Your doctor, your—

JOHN NICHOLS: You can't -- you know, you can't touch any of that.

LISA LORINCZ: But I don't know that I want to teach my daughter not to trust anybody. I think I want to arm her with the tools that, when she's in a situation, like, I think had I taught Kaley to say, "I am uncomfortable," that I believe, at 13, she would have handled the situation differently.

NORAH O'DONNELL: I wanna ask quickly… about the Karolyis. They've received some attention in this. But how guilty are the Karolyis, do you believe?

GINA NICHOLS: Hundred percent guilty.

NORAH O'DONNELL: Do you think they knew?

GINA NICHOLS: Yes. Because, to me, how could they not know?

NORAH O'DONNELL: So have the Karolyis been held accountable?


GINA NICHOLS: No. We know that they're being investigated. That's all we know.

DOUG POWELL: We had one person held accountable so far.

NORAH O'DONNELL: Say that again, Doug.

DOUG POWELL: I feel we've had one person that's been--

NORAH O'DONNELL: And who's that?

DOUG POWELL: Larry Nassar.

NORAH O'DONNELL: What do you wanna see happen to Larry Nassar?

JOHN NICHOLS: I don't even wanna hear about Nassar again.

LISA LORINCZ: I don't think we care about -- I don't care about him.


LISA LORINCZ: He's one off the list.

CHRISTY LEMKE-AKEO: Yeah, I think it's more of the-- more of the other people that are culpable in all of this. I think that they need to either step up and take responsibility or it needs to be taken care of on--

JULIE POWELL: That's what Cassie's said. If you could put in one hand all of those institutions, MSU, USAG, USOC, if she could put in this hand them coming to her and genuinely, you know, pickig' her up and giving her a hug and saying, "I screwed up so bad," or, "Our community goofed up so bad" -- if she had that in this hand and $20 million in this hand, she'd rather have this hand [with the apology]. Because it -- her psyche is just different and changed and non-trusting. And that shouldn't be how we have to live.

CBS News has reached out to each person or organization the panel named. The Karolyis have not returned our request for a response, but have said they didn't know about the abuse. Neither Michigan State University nor USA Gymnastics replied, but both in the past have denied attempts to hide Nassar's misconduct. Kathie Klages's attorney indicated that she is being sued in a case related to Nassar's abuse and declined to comment, citing that litigation. A spokesman for the U.S. Olympic Commitee responded saying in part: "We are launching an independent investigation into the decades-long abuse by Larry Nassar to determine what complaints were made, when, to whom, and what was done in response."