The horrors of the Karolyi Ranch

Long-time USA Gymnastics team doctor, Larry Nassar has been sentenced to 60 years in prison on child pornography charges and 40 – 175 years for molesting three girls, and is awaiting sentencing on an additional three counts of criminal sexual conduct. One hundred and sixty of his victims testified at his sentencing, including several Olympic medalists.

It is suspected that the molestations took place at the Karolyi Ranch in Huntville, Texas (near Houston), This U.S. Olympic training facility is owned by Hungarian-American star couple Béla and Márta Károlyi. Authorities are investigating the Ranch and civil lawsuits have been filed against the Károlyis. The US Gymnastics organization has broken all relations with the couple.

USA Gymnasts work out on the final of camp at the Karolyi Ranch, run by Béla and Márta Károlyi, January 20, 2012, near New Waverley, Texas.

The civil lawsuit claims that the Károlyis “turned a blind-eye to the perpetrator Nassar’s sexual abuse of children at the Ranch.” The couple exhibited abusive behavior allowing “Nassar to have unfettered and secluded access to minor children” — a violation of USA Gymnastics policy.

Béla Károlyi and his wife Márta Erőss were both born in 1942 in Transylvania, Romania. At the time the region belonged to Hungary and Béla and Márta were born as Hungarian citizens.

Béla became a junior boxing champion and also a member of the national hammer throwing team. Márta was a gymnast and the couple trained together. They developed successful training techniques and were star coaches under the Communist Ceausescu regime in Romania.

In 1981, at the height of their success in Romania, they defected to the US and founded a coaching school in Texas called Karolyi Ranch. They trained numerous world class gymnasts among them Mary Lou Retton and Nadia Comăneci. Abuse allegations against the Károlyis are not new; the first reports surfaced a decade ago. (The Károlyis were accused with abuse in 2008 – read here.)

Previously the couple received acknowledgements both in Romania and the US and in 2008 the Hungarian-American community gave them the Abraham Lincoln award. Károlyi even jumped into politics when appeared at a campaign event of The Democratic Alliance of Hungarians party in Romania.

Two years ago, pressured by the Orbán government’s sport-propagandist György Szöllősi, the Hungarian Sport Journalist Organization gave a lifetime achievement award to the 73-year old trainer. The award was questioned since Károlyi never lived or worked in the country. In fact, officially he never even been invited to Hungary! “How can Károlyi get a prestigious award for his contributions to Hungarian sport?,” many asked. Officials claimed that he was “Hungarian blood” and Zsuzsa Csisztu, an ex-gymnast and journalist declared that Károlyi deserved the award because he has a “Hungarian heart.”

György Szöllősi, Chief Editor of Nemzeti Sport and Mr. Béla Károlyi on Hungarian TV

The molestation case of the US gymnasts is highly disturbing with many personal tragedies. The victims were very young and helpless.

Neither Márta nor Béla Károlyi has spoken publicly about the sexual abuse scandal. The couple have not responded to media requests, nor have their attorneys. Their Hungarian award should be withdrawn.

György Lázár


  1. No charges has been filed in Texas against Larry Nassar,
    So far he admitted abuse of three (girls)and sentenced in Michigan, by the Eaton County and Ingram County court for 40-125 year preison terms. That will run at the same time. Nassar also has been sentenced by Federal Court for 60 years in prison for child pornography charges.
    So, by law, he will have to serve at least 100 years before he may ask for parole.

    Some of those commenters, who keep repeating that in the US criminals are free to commit crimes, should take notice of this and other cases of what punishments are handed down. Has any one ever been charged, tried and punished for sexual abuse in Hungary ?

    • Bende
      Just recently there have been several cases – e.g. swimming coach Làszlò Kiss, musical director Kerènyi, several others; a manager of a youth home is in custody and afaik will certainly be charged.

  2. That simply means that there has not ever been any.
    Hope you are not implying that there has never been sexual abuse, rape, or any inappropriate treatment of girls and women ever.
    No women has ever been bothered by men at work?
    But employment adds used to be like; ‘.. must be attractive and willing..’ etc.

    Here in US, just this evening came to light that Gen.Kelly, the White House chief of staff has abused both of his ex-wives.
    Now he is out of that job !
    How about porn on any one’s computer?
    Dr.Larry Nasser got 60 years in jail for that!

  3. Bendeguz,
    Would not hurt you to THINK before you write your drivel!

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