Ex-USA Gymnastics trainer has sexual assault count dropped


HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — Texas prosecutors on Friday dropped a sexual assault charge against a former trainer who worked alongside imprisoned ex-sports doctor Larry Nassar at the famed Karolyi gymnastics ranch.

Debra Van Horn, 64, was charged in Walker County, Texas, in June 2018with a count of second-degree sexual assault of a child, making her the first person other than Nassar to be charged in connection with his assaults.

Prosecutors said Van Horn, who had worked at USA Gymnastics for 30 years, was charged for “acting as a party” with Nassar. Texas law of parties holds a person “criminally responsible as a party to an offense if the offense is committed by his own conduct, by the conduct of another for which he is criminally responsible, or by both.”

However, Walker County District Attorney Will Durham said there was insufficient evidence to take Van Horn to trial.

“Therefore, Debra Van Horn will not be prosecuted as a party to the 2012 offense alleged to have been committed by Nassar,” he said in a prepared statement.

Durham was not with the district attorney’s office when Van Horn was indicted.

A message sent to Van Horn’s attorney, Heather Barbieri of Plano, Texas, wasn’t immediately returned.

Nassar is serving decades in prison for sexual assault and possession of child pornography in Michigan. Steve Perry, former USA Gymnastics president and CEO until he resigned under pressure in March 2017, awaits trial in Huntsville, Texas, on a third-degree felony charge accusing him of ordering removal of documents relating to Nassar from the Karolyi Ranch near Huntsville, Texas. He has pleaded not guilty.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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