Behind the walls: Sexual abuse in American men’s gymnastics

When Chris Reigel was 14, and already the boy wonder of American gymnastics, his home town of Reading, Pennsylvania, had co-marshals for its 1979 Christmas parade. Riegel shared the honor with Pittsburgh Pirates star, National League and World Series MVP, Willie Stargell.

To the parade’s organizers the pairing was a natural: the slugger who had just won the World Series and the kid destined to conquer the world.

At 6-foot-2, 225 pounds Stargell was more than a foot taller and 100 pounds heavier than Riegel and seemed even larger that day dressed in a cowboy hat and a full-length fur coat. Riegel, already used to the national spotlight, did not shrink in Stargell’s presence.

“What I hear about you is incredible,” Stargell said as the parade was about to start, Riegel recalled.

“Willie, what you haven’t heard about me is even more incredible,” Riegel said.

“And he said ‘Say, what?’ and I just said ‘Never mind,’” Riegel continued.

“Even there I was already commentating verbally in a vague way of the ridiculousness of my life.”

Riegel was arguably the best teenage male gymnast in the world, the kid from Reading’s blue collar Southside neighborhood seemingly headed to Olympic glory if not in Moscow in 1980, then certainly in Los Angeles four years later.

He was also being routinely sexually abused, Riegel alleges, by the very man who was trying to make him an Olympic champion — Larry Moyer, his coach.

Moyer began exposing himself and masturbating in front of Riegel when the gymnast was just 8 years old and then masturbated and performed oral sex on him between the ages of 11 and 16, Riegel alleges in a series of exclusive interviews with the Southern California News Group and according to U.S. Center for Safe Sport and USA Gymnastics documents obtained by SCNG.

Coaches and officials with USA Gymnastics, then known as the U.S. Gymnastics Federation, and U.S. Olympic Committee staff were aware of Moyer’s sexual abuse, Riegel alleges, but took no steps to stop it or report Moyer, a U.S. national team coach, to law enforcement during Riegel’s career.

“I was sexually abused by my personal coach from 1973 to 1981, and due to the absolute failures of the USGF (USAG) and USOC, it wiped away my youth, cut short my career, and left me with wounds that never heal,” Riegel wrote in a letter to USA Gymnastics and SafeSport last October.

Neither location nor occasion deterred Moyer’s abuse, said Riegel, speaking publicly on the record for the first time about his alleged abuse. The abuse took place at Moyer’s apartment, Riegel alleges, at local hotels and racquet clubs, at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, the U.S. Military and U.S. Air Force academies, the night before Riegel, at 12, was launched onto the global stage at Madison Square Garden, at U.S. championships, and while competing for the U.S. national team at international competitions in foreign countries.

“It was never ending,” Riegel said.

“He’d lay there and masturbate in front of me,” Riegel continued. “And I’m 14 years old in a …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Sports


(Visited 7 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *