Second Utah gymnast alleges abusive environment

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darcy mainESPN.comOctober 25, 2023, 2:00 PM ET2 minute read

Days after Carla Eaker announced she was retiring from competitive gymnastics over allegations of abuse as a member of the University of Utah gymnastics team, another former gymnast at the school came forward with her own accusations about the program.

Kim Thessen, who played for the team from 2017 to 2020 and was named the Pac-12 Specialist of the Year during his senior season, said in a lengthy Instagram post Tuesday that the program was “an abusive and toxic environment. ”, he said.

“I was verbally attacked multiple times with no sign of sympathy,” Tessen wrote. “My physical boundaries were also violated on several occasions, as aggressive interactions often occurred where he would scream or point in my face in an unpleasant manner. I experienced even more fear because of this type of interaction and witnessing it happening to others.”

Eaker said in a post Friday that she is a “victim of verbal and emotional abuse,” and has been diagnosed with severe anxiety, depression, and anxiety-induced insomnia, and suffers from panic attacks, PTSD, and night terrors. He said he had experienced. Eaker, who also left the school, did not name head coach Tom Farden, but she said many of her problems stemmed from her interactions with “overbearing coaches.”

Tessen specifically mentioned “Tom” throughout the post. During her time with the team, she suffered from “severe depression and anxiety” and had “suicidal thoughts,” she told Farden in a written statement.

“Tom decided to address the group rather than me personally,” Tessen said. “We were told, ‘How can we know if you’re not telling us what’s going on?’ Providing real support from him individually and directly. I was never asked, just periodically asked if I was ‘getting help.’

Tessen, the Red Rocks’ team captain, told Farden during the preseason of her senior season that she should step down from her role because she was “visibly struggling and that’s not the job of a true leader.” He said he asked for it and called her a “failure.”

Tessen said she was motivated to share her story to help Eaker and “all other survivors of abusive coaching.”

Farden and the team’s culture were the focus of an investigation that concluded last month. The outside law firm Husch Blackwell found that Farden “did not engage in any severe, pervasive, or egregious conduct, mental or verbal, toward student-athletes,” and that Farden “did not engage in any severe, pervasive, or egregious conduct toward student-athletes, including physical or emotional abuse.” “He was not involved in any acts such as harassment.” Defined by the Safe Sport Code. ” He was determined to have made derogatory comments toward team members, although other similar comments reported “could not be independently corroborated and may have been denied by Coach Farden.” be. The suspect also “likely threw a stopwatch or cell phone in front of the student-athletes in a fit of frustration,” but investigators said such behavior “was not repeated and was not serious.” There is.

Eaker said the investigation was “incomplete at best.” Tessen did not mention the investigation, but referred to those defending Farden’s actions and encouraged them to “at least listen to the voices of those who want change.”

A Utah State spokesperson declined to comment to ESPN about Eaker and Tessen’s posts, saying they do not have a statement at this time.





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One response to “Second Utah gymnast alleges abusive environment”
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