Marcia Frederick, first U.S. Gymnastics world champion, shares story of abuse
By Scott Reid
FALL RIVER, Mass. — There is a weariness in her eyes and voice, the first hints of a woman worn down by the decades.
“I’m beat,” she said. “Done.”
Marcia Frederick, America’s first world champion female gymnast, is haunted.
By the naïve, vulnerable teenage girl she can never save.
By the coach she said preyed on her.
By the adults who she said didn’t stand up for her.
By all those early mornings and middle of the nights in her bedroom, all those times in hotel rooms and cars and secluded hallways.
By that day at the 1979 World Championships in Fort Worth when Frederick, the reigning uneven bars world champion, walked onto the competition floor for the all around event overwhelmed by a sense of dread.
“I had no brain left,” Frederick said. “I couldn’t think of gymnastics.”
No, Frederick said she couldn’t stop thinking about whether the same thing was going to happen that night after the competition that had taken place that very morning.
Two hours before then 16-year-old Frederick was to represent the United States against the world’s top gymnasts, she said her coach, Richard Carlson, had her perform oral sex on him.
Frederick, in an exclusive interview with the Southern California News Group, alleged that Carlson had her engage in sex acts for two years starting in 1979, just weeks after she turned 16 and only months after she won the uneven bars gold medal at the 1978 Worlds. Carlson continued to have sexual relations with her while she competed for Team USA in major international competitions and trained for the 1980 Olympic Games, Frederick said, until she was 18.
“Two years,” she said. “For me it seemed like 10 years.”
More than two years since Frederick filed a formal complaint with USA Gymnastics, the sport’s national governing body, alleging sexual misconduct by Carlson the organization still hasn’t […]