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Tuesday
Jan162018

Sexual assault victims confront former Olympic doctor Larry Nassar in court

Scott Olson/Getty Images(LANSING, Mich.) -- An onslaught of victims, many of them tearful and with voices tinged with anger and determination, confronted former USA Olympic gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar in a Michigan courtroom Tuesday, telling him how he robbed them of their childhoods by using his position as a star physician to sexually assault them and scar them for life.

One by one, the victims stood at a podium in Ingram County Circuit Court in Lansing just feet from the man who molested them as children, some in front of their parents during medical examinations.

Standing beside her mother and father, Jade Capua, 17, told the court that she went to Nassar when she was just 13 after suffering an injury while performing gymnastics. She was led by her coaches into believing Nassar, 54, a former University of Michigan sports doctor, was a "miracle worker, who could fix anything."

"You violate the right to be called a doctor," Capua said, looking directly at Nassar.

She said that instead of helping her heal, Nassar committed acts of depravity on her.

"These acts were completely immoral and horrific, and I'm confident Mr. Nassar will get what he deserves," Capua said.

She ended her statement by rejecting the label of victim, saying, "I'm Jade Capua and I'm a survivor."

Prosecutors said they have scheduled 98 of 125 victims to address the court over the next four days. All said they were molested by Nassar, and about a dozen addressed the court Tuesday morning.

Nassar pleaded guilty in November to sexually assaulting seven girls, but Judge Rosemarie Anguilina is allowing many more victims to speak in court.

The disgraced doctor has already been sentenced to 60 years in prison after pleading guilty to federal child pornography charges. He has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 125 women and girls in civil lawsuits.

Among the young women who say they were molested by Nassar are Olympic medalists Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney, Gabby Douglas and Jamie Dantzscher. Four-time Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles said on Monday that she, too, was sexually abused Nassar.

"I too am one of the many survivors that was sexually abused by Larry Nassar," Biles, 20, said in a statement released on Twitter.

"I've felt a bit broken and the more I try to shut off the voice in my head the louder it screams," she wrote. "I am not afraid to tell my story anymore."

The first to speak in court on Tuesday was Kyle Stephen, who said she was 6 years old when Nassar began abusing her.

"You convinced my parents that I was liar. You are a repulsive liar," Stephens said, fighting back tears. "Little girls don't stay little girls forever. They grow into strong women."

She said her father committed suicide after learning the truth of what Nassar did to her.

"You used my body for six years for your own sexual gratification. That is unforgivable," she said.

She asked Judge Aguilina to sentence Nassar to up to 125 years in prison.

As the statements were being given, Nassar, wearing dark blue jail clothes, sat next to his attorney with his head buried in his hand or staring down, refusing to make eye contact with the victims.

Donna Markham sobbed at times as she told the court of her daughter Chelsea, who she and her husband adopted as a baby. She said her daughter was 10 years old when she suffered a lower back injury while participating in gymnastics, and committed suicide at the age of 23.

She said they were referred to Nassar, who treated Chelsea and molested her when she was just 12 years old. She said Nassar, like he did with many of his victims, secretly stuck his hands in her daughter's vagina while she was present in the examination room.

Markham said she didn't realize what happened to her daughter until after they left they left the exam, and the girl broke down in tears in the car ride home.

"She said, 'Mom he put his fingers in me and they were not gloved,'" Markham said, adding that her daughter pleaded with her not to turn around immediately and drive back to confront Nassar.

She said the effects of the assault were immediate. Her daughter began doing horribly in school and dropped out of the gymnastics program she loved when she was 13. She later began to abuse drugs before taking her life in 2009.

"This was a man who was supposed to be the best in his field. He was supposed to help her. He was supposed to help her heal," Markham said. "He didn't do that. He had the audacity to abuse her when I was right there in the room."

"Everyday I miss her. Every day," she added. "And it all started with him. It just became worse and she just couldn't deal with it anymore."

Jessica Thomashow, 17, said Nassar molested her twice, once when she was 9 and again when she was 12. She said the attacks occurred when she went to him to be treated for a rib injury she suffered during gymnastics.

"He touched the most innocent parts of my body," Thomashow said.

Speaking directly to Nassar, she said, "What you did to me was twisted. You manipulated me and my family. How dare you."

She asked Aguilina to give Nassar the maximum sentence.

"He is a predator and he can't be stopped unless he is behind bars for the rest of his life," Thomashow said.

Alexis Moore said she went to Nassar at age 9 to be treated for a broken pelvis and ended up being abused repeatedly by him over the course of 10 years.

"For years, Mr. Nassar convinced me that he was the only person who could help me recover from multiple serious injuries," Moore said in court. "To me, he was like a knight and shining armor. But alas, that shine blinded me from the abuse. He betrayed my trust, took advantage of my youth and sexually abused me hundreds of times."

Aguilina praised the victims for the bravery to speak out in court, and called all of them strong women.

"You talk about being broken. Well, he's going to break while you are healing," Aguilina said. "Don't let this define you, any of you. Go out and do great things in the world."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Jan152018

How this 13-year-old skateboarder became the youngest X Games gold medalist in history

ABC News(ENCINITAS, Calif.) -- They say never meet your heroes.

At 13 years old, Brighton Zeuner beat them.

Just one day after her birthday, Brighton took home gold during the women’s skateboard park event at the 2017 X Games in Minneapolis. She beat out her fellow competitors and became the youngest X Games medalist in the competition’s history.

“There’s little kids saying, ‘Oh, I saw you on YouTube.’ It’s kind of crazy for me,” Brighton told ABC News’ “Nightline.” “I don’t know. I’m 13, and it’s kind of weird.”

Brighton’s list of firsts is long. When she was 11 years old, she became the youngest X Games competitor ever. And in 2015, she became the youngest winner at the Vans U.S. Open.

Brighton is also the only female winner of California State Games Athlete of the Year.

At home in Encinitas, California, Brighton appears like most 13-year-old girls, keeping makeup and diaries in her bedroom. But in her backyard stands a half-pipe for Brighton to practice her moves.

Brighton says she skates in her backyard every day. Local skaters have used the half-pipe, as well as legends like Tony Hawk.

“She got to meet and skate with the best,” Brighton’s mother, Bridget Zeuner, told “Nightline.”

Brighton’s older brother, Jack Zeuner, is the reason she got into the sport. When Jack became interested in skateboarding, she was dragged along to the park, too. It didn’t take long before she was beating him in competitions.

“She’s kind of a natural. I wasn’t,” Jack told “Nightline.” “I didn’t really care.”

“He’s better than me at some stuff in street stuff. I kind of own the whole contest thing,” Brighton said.

These days, Jack has also become the cameraperson for his sister.

Brighton skates for hours every day. She said she loves the sport because of “the freedom you get, and, I know it sounds cheesy, but escape.”

She now travels the world with her skateboard and will soon head to Shanghai, China, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“It’s cool getting all those stamps on my passport. It’s going to fill up at the end of the year,” said Brighton.

“We go with her. Keeps them grounded, keeps them out of trouble,” said Bridget Zeuner.

“As a family, we’re very close because of that,” Brighton’s father, Brandon Zeuner, told “Nightline.” “The school they attend now is very open to a schedule that allows kids to travel the world or just not be present all the time in school.”

In an extreme sport historically dominated by grown boys and men, Brighton is blazing a trail. She is the first female skateboarder ever sponsored by Red Bull.

“There’s stereotypes that only boys can do it, and it’s a manly sport. Honestly, the girls have proven that we can share the sport,” Brighton said.

She hopes to make it to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, where skateboarding will make its debut as an Olympic sport.

“Fingers crossed. That’s going to push skateboarding,” Brighton said.

She added, “I just want to make a living off skateboarding and see where it takes me.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Jan152018

Olympic gymnast Simone Biles says she was 'sexually abused by Larry Nassar' 

Joe Faraoni / ESPN Images(NEW YORK) -- Four-time Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles said Monday that she was "sexually abused" by disgraced sports doctor Larry Nassar.

"I too am one of the many survivors that was sexually abused by Larry Nassar," Biles, 20, said in a statement released on her Twitter.

"I've felt a bit broken and the more I try to shut off the voice in my head the louder it screams," she added. "I am not afraid to tell my story anymore."

Biles is the latest high-profile athlete to accuse the former USA Gymnastics team doctor of sexual misconduct. Olympic gymnasts Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Gabby Douglas have also publicly said they were abused by Nassar.

Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in prison last December after pleading guilty to federal child pornography charges. Nassar also pleaded guilty in November 2017 to seven counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct involving girls who were 15 years old or younger in Ingham County, Michigan, as well as three other counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct in Eaton County, Michigan.

In addition, he has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 125 women and girls in civil lawsuits.

Nassar’s victims will address an Ingham County court beginning Tuesday as part of his sentencing for the seven counts of criminal sexual conduct. Up to 125 victims may speak over the course of several days.

He is due to be sentenced for the three additional counts in Eaton County on Jan. 31.

In her statement Monday, Biles lauded the other accusers who have come forward and spoken out against Nassar.

"After hearing the brave stories of my friends and other survivors, I know that this horrific experience does not define me," she wrote. "I am much more than this."

She slammed the physician's behavior as "completely unacceptable, disgusting, and abusive."

Biles also called for more accountability, saying, "We need to know why this was able to take place for so long and to so many of us.

"We need to make sure something like this never happens again," she added.

Biles also said that she refuses to let Nassar's actions stop her from pursuing her gymnastics goals, including her "dream of competing in Tokyo 2020."

"I love this sport too much and I have never been a quitter," she said. "I won't let one man, and the others that enabled him, to steal my love and joy."

Shortly after Maroney came forward with her allegations of assault, USA Gymnastics issued a statement saying, "We are strengthening and enhancing our policies and procedures regarding abuse, as well as expanding our educational efforts to increase awareness of signs to watch for and reporting suspicions of abuse, including the obligation to immediately report. USA Gymnastics, its members and community are committed to working together to keep our athletes as safe as possible.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Jan152018

Miracle in Minneapolis: Vikings fans celebrate stunning victory

Jamie Squire/Getty Images(MINNEAPOLIS) -- When New Orleans Saints kicker Wil Lutz drilled a 43-yard field goal with 25 seconds to go to give the Saints a 24-23 lead over the Minnesota Vikings in Sunday’s divisional playoff game, long-suffering Vikings fans began to feel a little déjà vu. Another loss. Another playoff disappointment. Another cold winter devoid of a Super Bowl championship that has long eluded the snake-bitten team.

But then everything changed.

The Vikings' second-year quarterback, Case Keenum, launched a last-second bomb down the sideline to Stefon Diggs, who scampered 61 yards to the end zone as time expired, sending all 66,612 fans at US Bank Stadium into a state of delirium.

A franchise known for coming up short in the postseason had just pulled off one of the most miraculous plays in NFL history. "If there was a curse, we probably would have lost today," Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said.

From Minnesota to New York and all the way to Hawaii, Vikings fans celebrated the “Miracle in Minneapolis.” Most could only scream or jump up and down. They were at a loss for words.

Fans like Millie Wall, a 99-year-old Minnesota native who witnessed her first Vikings playoff game in person after the team sent her tickets, never lost hope. After the game, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell gave Wall tickets to the Super Bowl. And if the Vikings beat the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, they will become the first team in play in and host a Super Bowl.

Sunday’s game showed how sports can produce the most raw and unpredictable moments and the Vikings were finally on the winning side.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Jan132018

Man attempts to play catch with someone every day in 2018: 'It's just fun!'

Ethan Bryan(SPRINGFIELD, Mo.) -- One baseball lover wants to return to the simpler things in life this year, and has resolved to play catch every single day.

Ethan Bryan said he got the idea to play catch every day in 2018 after his 13-year-old daughter, Sophie, gifted him a catching glove for Christmas. On her gift, a note read: "Dad, want to play catch?"

On the very first day of the New Year, the Springfield, Missouri father of two told ABC News that he took his daughter up on the offer.

"It was horribly cold...but I said, 'Do you want to play catch?' And she looked at me and said, 'Sure!' Bryan, 43, recalled to ABC News.

While throwing the ball around, Bryan, who's played catch since he was 8 years old, remembered how good it felt.

"This is what I love to do more than anything -- to play catch -- so I said let’s see how many days in a row we could do it," Bryan explained.

And so far, so good. He's played catch with both of his daughters -- Sophie along with 16-year-old Kaylea -- as well as church friends and other family members. Bryan has also played with retired St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Kyle McClellan.

"It’s just fun," he said. "There are times when I drop the ball. It happens. It’s not about being perfect. There’s no judgment. We’re just out there having fun. And I think as we get older we forget how important it is to step back and have fun."

Bryan added, "There’s a freedom that’s found in playing catch that I just love -- just to connect with somebody away from screens, away from phones, away from this incredibly technology-infused life."

Chris Taylor, who met Bryan at a book launch event, played catch with the baseball enthusiast last Saturday.

"He texted me -- and I'm known for cosplaying as Thor -- so he texted me, 'Does Thor play catch?' And I said, 'Yeah!'" Taylor recalled to ABC News.

The two threw the ball around a few times. Taylor, who admitted he hadn't played catch "in a while," said it felt good to have fun again.

"Ethan’s just a little ball of joy," he said. "It felt great and I want to do more of it."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Jan132018

Legendary sports broadcaster Keith Jackson dies at age 89

Ida Mae Astute/ABC/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Keith Jackson, who was often referred to as the voice of college football over the past five decades, died late Friday night, according to his family. He was 89.

Jackson spent more than 50 years as a sports broadcaster. He retired in 2006.

He began calling college football games for ABC Sports after it acquired the broadcast rights for NCAA football in 1966. He also worked NFL and NBA games, 11 World Series and League of Legends, 10 Winter and Summer Olympics, and auto racing.  Jackson got his start on the radio in 1952, broadcasting Washington State games.

He was the first play-by-play voice of Monday Night Football in 1970, when the program debuted.

He was credited with nicknaming the Rose Bowl "The Granddaddy of Them All" and Michigan's stadium "The Big House."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Jan132018

Scoreboard roundup -- 1/12/18

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Friday's sports events:

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
Washington 125, Orlando 119
Indiana 97, Cleveland 95
Charlotte 99, Utah 88
Brooklyn 110, Atlanta 105
Minnesota 118, N.Y. Knicks 108
Golden State 108, Milwaukee 94
New Orleans 119, Portland 113
Denver 87, Memphis 78
Houston 112, Phoenix 95

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
Vancouver 5, Columbus 2
Calgary 4, Florida 2
Washington 4, Carolina 3
Chicago 2, Winnipeg 1
Edmonton 4, Arizona 2

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Jan122018

Saudi Arabia allows women to attend soccer match

iStock/Thinkstock(JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia) -- In a historic move permitted by Saudi rulers, a stadium in Saudi Arabia’s second city, Jeddah, allowed women to attend a soccer match between two local teams.

Dressed in headscarves and long flowing abbayas the women filed into the stadium, ushered by women in orange T-shirts over their conservative dress, to take up seats at the “family section" of the stands, separate from the male spectators. The structure of the stadium accommodated the segregation with women-only car parks and separate entrances for the female spectators.

These sections are found throughout the country in public places, such as restaurants. Men and women can only sit together as married couples or if they are directly related.

Despite the landmark development for women’s freedom, less than half of the “family section” was filled.

Saudi Arabia will see more mixed stadiums opening over the next few days with the capital Riyadh opening its stadium on Saturday and the city of Damam next week.

“It’s very nice and it’s about time.” Karima Buchari, a college lecturer and mother of two teenage daughters in Riyadh, told ABC News. She watched the women at the stadium on the news.

“It’s a huge change because they just used to keep those places for men," she said.

The new measure for women is part of 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s reforms in the Kingdom to reduce restrictions for women and to modernize the country. Last year he announced that women will be allowed to drive beginning in June 2018 and in 2015 women were allowed to vote and represent themselves for the first time in municipal elections.

“Soon they’ll have women playing football.” Buchari said. She regards Prince Salman as a champion for women.

“Yes, he is a hero and this era is the Saudi women’s time for sure,” she said.

These small steps towards women’s freedom in Saudi Arabia do not address the permissions they still need from men to go about their daily lives; these include: getting married, opening a bank account, elective surgery, traveling abroad.

Buchari remains hopeful that there will be more concessions for her freedom to come.

“I hope we use it [the freedoms] wisely and we make the country proud of our accomplishments,” she said.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Jan122018

Billie Jean King backs calls to rename Margaret Court Arena

Michael Dodge/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- During a news conference on Friday, tennis legend Billie Jean King said she believes Margaret Court Arena at the Australian Open should be renamed due to Court's comments about the LGBT community.

Court, who is from Australia, is now a Christian pastor and has been an outspoken critic of same-sex marriage.

King, who is gay, was originally a proponent of having the arena named after Court in 2003 in recognition of the 24-time Grand Slam winner, but that changed after Court's comments.

"I was fine until lately when she said so many derogatory things about my community -- I'm a gay woman -- about the LBGTIQ community," King said at news conference Friday. "That really went deep in my heart and soul.

King is being honored at the Australian Open this year, on the 50th year of her first win at the Grand Slam. She is being recognized as the Australian Open Woman of the Year.

King did not say players should boycott the Arena at the Open, but she added, "If I were playing today, I would not play on it." 

King is not the only former women's tennis player that is calling for a name change.

Martina Navratilova, an 18-time Grand Slam winner, wrote an open letter last year recommending that tennis officials rename the court for Evonne Goolagon Cawley, another Australian tennis great.

Tournament director Craig Tiley said that while there's an "ongoing conversation", there is no formal process about changing the name of the court.

Last year Court's negative comments about gay people in Australia were heavily criticized. The country voted in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage in 2017.

Court is a regular attendee at the event, but she is not attending this year's Open, which starts on Monday.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Jan122018

Scoreboard Roundup -- 1/12/18 

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from yesterday's sports events:
 
  NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
 Final Boston   114 Philadelphia 103
 Final Toronto  133 Cleveland 99
 Final L.A. Clippers 121 Sacramento  115
 Final L.A. Lakers 93 San Antonio  81
 
  NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
 Final Carolina  3 Washington  1
 Final Buffalo  3 Columbus 1
 Final Calgary  5 Tampa Bay  1
 
  TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL
 Final (6) Wichita St.  95 East Carolina 60
 Final Oregon  76 (11) Arizona St.  72
 Final (15) Gonzaga 103 Portland  57
 Final (17) Arizona 62 Oregon St.   53
 Final NC State   78 (19) Clemson  77

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