Updated: August 28, 2020 09:57 AM
Created: August 27, 2020 08:03 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — A Childhood Victims Act lawsuit alleges disgraced USA Olympic gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, who was sentenced to more than 175 years in prison for sexually assaulting athletes, sexually assaulted a gymnast at the U.S. Olympic qualifier in Rochester in 1999.
The plaintiff is Nicolle Ford, who is now 35 years old and living in Nevada.
The suit claims Nassar abused Ford when she was 14 years old and he was treating her for a hamstring injury at the event at Blue Cross Arena.
Nassar served as a doctor with USA Gymnastics for nearly two decades. He is serving a 40 to 175-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting seven girls; he was also previously sentenced to 60 years in federal prison for child porn charges, and an additional 40 to 125 years after pleading guilty to abusing 10 minors in 2018.
"It's something that stays with these women for a lifetime," Michelle Simpson-Tuegel, Ford’s attorney said.
The Dallas-based attorney says Ford's role on the U.S. Olympic team, coupled with the passing of the Child Victims Act, gave them this opportunity.
The suit names the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and five unnamed defendants, and alleges that they misrepresented Nassar, enabling the abuse, which caused Ford “severe injuries, including but not limited to severe mental and emotional distress.”
The suit accuses them of gross negligence and sues for damages.
"There's a real pain and suffering in knowing that it went on so long before you that was preventable and there's also a pain in knowing that it went on so long after you," she said.
News10NBC reached out to the USOC for comment but have not yet heard back.
From here, Simpson-Tuegel says they plan to continue negotiations in the coming months but are prepared to take the case in front of a jury if they have to.
"We realize it won't fix the damage that was done, but I do find that they have healing and standing up and speaking out, and holding those accountable who failed them and did not protect them when they were children," she said.
Simpson-Tuegel is representing Ford and other gymnasts in a separate suit against USA Gymnastics. That case is in bankruptcy court in Indiana, and court records show they held a hearing last week.
Simpson-Tuegel says she believes Ford is the only current accuser from Rochester, but that could change as the process moves forward.
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