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Minnesota gymnast featured prominently in Netflix documentary 'Athlete A'

The documentary details serial sexual abuse involving a former team doctor.

"Athlete A," the highly anticipated Netflix documentary about the serial sexual abuse involving a former USA Gymnastics doctor, comes out on Wednesday and will prominently feature Minnesota native Maggie Nichols. 

Nichols, a native of Little Canada who now stars as a gymnast at the University of Oklahoma, shared her story of surviving sexual abuse through a letter released to the public in 2015, in which she said she was 15 and experiencing back pain while competing at the World Championships when Dr. Larry Nassar began abusing her. 

Nichols wrote that she had been treated by Nassar before for an elbow injury without incident. But when she went in for her back, he took her into a room where he closed the door and shut the blinds.

"At the time I thought this was kind of weird but figured it must be okay. I thought he probably didn’t want to distract the other girls and I trusted him," she wrote. Nassar touched her in places that she "really didn't think he should," and he wasn't wearing gloves nor explaining what he was doing. 

"There was no one else in the room and I accepted what he was doing because I was told by adults that he was the best doctor and he could help relieve my pain."

The sexual abuse was reported to USA Gymnastics in the summer of 2015, but as the documentary explains, instead of the criminal behavior being reported to law enforcement, USA Gymnastics conducted a private investigation to allegedly protect Nassar, according to a film review by Variety

“There’s no holding back at all. It’s straight forward, it’s straight to the point, which is incredible,” Nichols, explaining the documentary, said to WCCO-TV. “And I think it’s going to be super educational and people are really, I think their eyes are going to open.”

Nassar was accused of sexually assaulting more than 100 gymnasts through his work with USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University. He later admitted to the crimes, in addition to pleading guilty to multiple charges of child pornography. 

Nassar was sentenced to 175 years in a Michigan prison for seven counts of sexual assault of minors, followed by another 40-to-125-year sentence for an additional three counts of sexual abuse.

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