Docs

HBO tackles U.S. gymnastics sex abuse scandal

American premium cable net HBO has set the TV debut of its feature-length documentary, about the osteopathic physician who sexually abused hundreds of female athletes on the U.S. women’s Olympic gymnastics ...
April 17, 2019

American premium cable net HBO has set the TV debut of its feature-length documentary, about the osteopathic physician who sexually abused hundreds of female athletes on the U.S. women’s Olympic gymnastics team, for next month, following the doc’s Tribeca Film Festival premiere.

At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal uses testimonials from survivors, coaches, lawyers, journalists and Judge Rosemarie Aquilina to tell the story of Dr. Larry Nassar and the system that allowed him to get away with his crimes for more than two decades, prioritizing winning over the safety of the young athletes.

The story, buried for years as accusations and evidence against Nassar grew, became a lightning rod for institutional abuses in 2016, when Rachael Denhollander went public with her own story in the Indianapolis Star. After Denhollander’s story came to light, other young women came forward, mounting a public case — and several lawsuits — against Nassar, who was subsequently fired from his job at Michigan State University and eventually pleaded guilty to abuse charges in Michigan. He is currently serving a 175-year sentence in federal prison.

Steve Penny, former president of USA Gymnastics, was arrested last year for tampering with evidence in the Nassar case. His case is still pending. Congress passed legislation to enforce mandatory reporting of sexual abuse in amateur sports in response to the case, while the entire board of USA Gymnastics resigned one week after Nassar’s Jan. 2018 sentencing. A month after that, Scott Blackmun stepped down as the chief executive of the United States Olympic Committee, an organization that moved to decertify USA Gymnastics as the sport’s governing body.

Eighty-eight survivors were originally scheduled to make statements at Nassar’s sentencing, but 156 women eventually come forward, including Trinea Gonczar (pictured), a survivor and longtime family friend of Nassar, who spoke of the trauma of the abuse she faced at the hands of Nassar: “You hurt me, as I’ve had to realize I was abused for many years of my life…I will do everything for the rest of my life to make sure that the ‘you’s’ of this world don’t get to hurt another one of us.”

At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal is directed by Erin Lee Carr. It is based on years of research by producers Dr. Steven Ungerleider and David Ulich. Sarah Gibson, Michael Cascio and Gerald R. Molen serve as executive producers. For HBO, executive producers are Nancy Abraham and Lisa Heller, and the supervising producer is Sara Rodriguez.

The film premieres at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York on April 26 before bowing on HBO May 3 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. It will also be available on HBO Now, HBO Go, HBO On Demand and partners’ streaming platforms.

Watch the trailer below:

(Photo courtesy of HBO)

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news editor at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joined the RS team in 2015 with experience in journalism following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and with communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.

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