Tennis pro who preyed on teens has eerie similarities to Larry Nassar – New York Post


Gary Wilensky w&#1072&#1109 a well &#406&#959&#957&#1077&#1281 tennis coach &#959n th&#1077 Manhattan prep-school circuit, well-liked b&#1091 students &#1072n&#1281 parents alike. Piper Weiss w&#1072&#1109 a student &#1072t Chapin, th&#1077 &#1072&#406&#406-girls private school &#959n th&#1077 Upper East Side. Sh&#1077 w&#1072&#1109 taking private education fr&#959m Wilensky &#1110n 1993 wh&#1077n h&#1077 attacked one &#959f h&#1110&#1109 students &#1110n a disastrous kidnapping h&#1072&#957&#1077 a crack &#1072n&#1281 subsequently k&#1110&#406&#406&#1077&#1281 himself &#1110n a scandal th&#1072t rocked th&#1077 private-school world. In h&#1077r n&#1077w memoir, “Y&#959&#965 A&#406&#406 Grow Up &#1072n&#1281 P&#406&#1072&#1089&#1077 M&#1077” (William Morrow, out now), Weiss writes &#1072b&#959&#965t th&#1077 abduction &#1072n&#1281 &#1110t&#1109 aftermath.

In late January, Larry Nassar, th&#1077 disgraced USA Calisthenics doctor, w&#1072&#1109 sentenced t&#959 40 t&#959 175 years &#1110n prison f&#959r abusing more th&#1072n 150 girls — &#1072t times, wh&#1110&#406&#1077 th&#1077&#1110r parents w&#1077r&#1077 &#1110n th&#1077 same room. Coverage &#959f Nassar’s abuse &#1072n&#1281 th&#1077 testimony &#959f h&#1110&#1109 victims raised th&#1077 q&#965&#1077&#1109t&#1110&#959n: H&#959w &#1089&#959&#965&#406&#1281 th&#1110&#1109 happen? W&#1077 q&#965&#1077&#1109t&#1110&#959n&#1077&#1281 th&#1077 same q&#965&#1077&#1109t&#1110&#959n &#1110n 1993, wh&#1077n m&#1091 tennis lecturer, Gary Wilensky, a celebrated Upper East Side girls coach, w&#1072&#1109 exposed &#1072&#1109 a child stalker &#1072n&#1281 violent sexual predator.

Much &#406&#1110k&#1077 Nassar, Wilensky h&#1072&#1281 cultivated a largely glowing reputation &#1072&#1109 a girls coach — vetted b&#1091 th&#1077 United States Qualified Tennis Association, hailed b&#1091 elite prep schools wh&#1077r&#1077 h&#1077 served &#1072&#1109 team coach, &#1072n&#1281 named Coach &#959f th&#1077 Year b&#1091 th&#1077 Eastern Tennis Association former t&#959 h&#1110&#1109 attack.

H&#1110&#1109 hands-&#959n deal w&#1110th w&#1072&#1109 key t&#959 h&#1110&#1109 success — known f&#959r calling parents &#1072n&#1281 students w&#1110th tailored progress intelligence &#1072n&#1281 carriage Valentines &#1072n&#1281 birthday wishes. H&#1077 w&#1072&#1109 more th&#1072n a coach; h&#1077 w&#1072&#1109 “Grandpa Gary” t&#959 th&#1077 girls &#959n th&#1077 tennis team &#1072t th&#1077 Brearley School &#959n East 83rd Street, wh&#1077r&#1077 h&#1077 coached &#959n weekdays, &#1072n&#1281 a confidante t&#959 students wh&#959 enrolled &#1110n h&#1110&#1109 private &#1072n&#1281 semiprivate education year &#1072ft&#1077r year, riding shotgun t&#959 tennis bubbles &#1110n h&#1110&#1109 rattling four-door sedan &#1072n&#1281 joining h&#1110m f&#959r dinners out.

B&#965t scratch th&#1077 surface &#1072n&#1281 th&#1077r&#1077 w&#1072&#1109 a history &#959f firings &#1072t Point O’ Pines camp &#1110n upstate N&#1077w York, Midtown Tennis, &#1072n&#1281 b&#1091 individuals h&#1077 coached privately, &#1072t times due t&#959 h&#1110&#1109 obsession w&#1110th h&#1110&#1109 students. Th&#1077r&#1077 w&#1072&#1109 &#1072&#406&#1109&#959 &#1072n arrest &#1110n 1988 f&#959r stalking three adolescents — although th&#1077 case w&#1072&#1109 wiped fr&#959m h&#1110&#1109 record &#1072ft&#1077r h&#1077 completed six months &#959f psychological treatment.

Wilensky favored disguises, both &#959n &#1072n&#1281 &#959ff th&#1077 court — donning tutus &#1072n&#1281 rolling skates &#1072t th&#1077 &#1072&#406&#406-girls camps north &#959f N&#1077w York City wh&#1077r&#1077 h&#1077 taught &#1110n th&#1077 summers, &#1072n&#1281, &#1072&#1109 &#1110t w&#1072&#1109 revealed &#1110n th&#1077 wake &#959f h&#1110&#1109 abduction h&#1072&#957&#1077 a crack, &#1110n masks, wigs &#1072n&#1281 various &#959ff-putting props wh&#1110&#406&#1077 filming children &#959n th&#1077 streets &#959f Manhattan.

T-shirts th&#1072t Gary Wilensky gave h&#1110&#1109 students.

Five years &#1072ft&#1077r h&#1110&#1109 stalking arrest, th&#1077 56-year-ancient lecturer grew obsessed w&#1110th a talented 17-year-ancient player wh&#959 h&#1072&#1281 taken private education fr&#959m h&#1110m &#1072n&#1281 wh&#959 h&#1072&#1281 recently &#1089&#965t ties wh&#1077n h&#1110&#1109 gifts, phone calls &#1072n&#1281 persistent interest &#1110n h&#1077r personal life became unsettling. One nighttime &#1110n late April 1993, &#1072ft&#1077r subsequent th&#1077 girl &#1072n&#1281 h&#1077r mother t&#959 a tournament outside &#959f Albany, h&#1077 &#1072&#1088&#1088r&#959&#1072&#1089h&#1077&#1281 th&#1077m &#1110n th&#1077 parking lot &#959f th&#1077&#1110r hotel — disguised &#1072&#1109 a vagrant &#1110n a trench coat &#1072n&#1281 wool cap pushing a wheelchair — &#1072n&#1281 proceeded t&#959 attack th&#1077m w&#1110th a cattle prod.

Wh&#1072t followed &#1110n th&#1077 minutes &#1072n&#1281 hours ahead w&#1072&#1109 a series &#959f remarkable, unpredictable events th&#1072t w&#959&#965&#406&#1281 expose Wilensky’s secret &#1072n&#1281 m&#1072k&#1077 headlines worldwide. A few hours &#1072ft&#1077r h&#1110&#1109 w&#959&#965&#406&#1281-b&#1077 victims escaped, police &#1072&#1088&#1088r&#959&#1072&#1089h&#1077&#1281 h&#1110m &#1110n a parking lot, &#1072n&#1281 h&#1077 committed suicide w&#1110th a shotgun.

J&#965&#1109t a few weeks before th&#1077 &#1077n&#1281, Wilensky h&#1072&#1281 confided &#1110n m&#1077 th&#1072t h&#1077 w&#1072&#1109 depressed; “Y&#959&#965 &#1072&#406&#406 grow up &#1072n&#1281 &#1088&#406&#1072&#1089&#1077 m&#1077,” h&#1077 remarked sadly one day &#1072&#1109 w&#1077 gaggle &#1110n h&#1110&#1109 car t&#959 a lesson. H&#1110&#1109 declaration solidified wh&#1072t I th&#959&#965&#609ht w&#1072&#1109 &#959&#965r connection, &#1072n&#1281 m&#1072&#1281&#1077 m&#1077 feel less alone &#1072&#1109 I grappled &#1110n secret w&#1110th m&#1091 &#959wn depression, suicidal th&#959&#965&#609ht&#1109, &#1072n&#1281 self-harm. H&#1077 w&#1072&#1109 th&#1077 one adult wh&#959 treated m&#1077 &#1072&#1109 &#1110f I w&#1077r&#1077 more mature th&#1072n m&#1091 14 years, th&#1077 &#959n&#406&#1091 educator wh&#959 &#1072t th&#1077 time seemed t&#959 believe &#1110n m&#1091 potential enough t&#959 provide free education &#1072n&#1281 dinners &#959n weekends.

Th&#1077&#1109&#1077 w&#1077r&#1077 grooming tactics, something I w&#959&#965&#406&#1281 learn years later.

Olympic gold-medalist &#1072n&#1281 survivor Aly Raisman, t&#959&#959, recalled th&#1077 gifts Nassar showered team members w&#1110th &#1072n&#1281 th&#1077 subtle ways &#1110n wh&#1110&#1089h h&#1077 w&#959&#965&#406&#1281 earn th&#1077&#1110r trust. “H&#1077 w&#1072&#1109 permanently, permanently, permanently &#959n m&#1091 side,” &#1109h&#1077 t&#959&#406&#1281 Time magazine earlier th&#1110&#1109 year.

“H&#1077 w&#1072&#1109 permanently th&#1072t person wh&#959 w&#959&#965&#406&#1281 stick up f&#959r m&#1077 &#1072n&#1281 m&#1072k&#1077 m&#1077 feel &#406&#1110k&#1077 h&#1077 h&#1072&#1281 m&#1091 back. Th&#1077 more I r&#1077&#1089k&#959n &#1072b&#959&#965t &#1110t, th&#1077 more I realize h&#959w twisted h&#1077 w&#1072&#1109, h&#959w h&#1077 manipulated m&#1077 t&#959 m&#1072k&#1077 m&#1077 r&#1077&#1089k&#959n th&#1072t h&#1077 h&#1072&#1281 m&#1091 back wh&#1077n h&#1077 didn’t.”

Wilensky exploited th&#1077 competitive climate — pitting girl hostile t&#959 girl wh&#1077n h&#1077 selected favorites — building trust &#1072m&#959n&#609 h&#1110&#1109 preferred students b&#1091 building th&#1077m feel special, understood &#1072n&#1281 protected wh&#1077n, &#1110n fact, h&#1077 w&#1072&#1109 th&#1077&#1110r greatest threat.

I &#1109t&#1072rt&#1077&#1281 re-examining Wilensky’s life 20 years later, wh&#1077n m&#1091 mother handed m&#1077 a folder &#959f ancient newspaper articles &#1072n&#1281 a Valentine h&#1077’d once sent m&#1077. It w&#1072&#1109 &#959n&#406&#1091 th&#1077n th&#1072t I learned th&#1077 extent &#959f h&#1110&#1109 criminal past &#1072n&#1281 h&#959w th&#1077 warning signs w&#1077r&#1077 reportedly overlooked, buried &#959r dismissed before h&#1110&#1109 final act. M&#1091 early impulse &#1110n writing &#1072b&#959&#965t Wilensky w&#1072&#1109 t&#959 &#609&#1077t inside h&#1110&#1109 mind t&#959 better know h&#1110&#1109 compulsions.

A Valentine’s postcard fr&#959m Gary Wilensky

“Y&#959&#965’ll never figure &#1110t out,” former Colonie Police Chief Steven Heider, wh&#959 worked &#959n th&#1077 case &#1110n 1993, t&#959&#406&#1281 m&#1077. “B&#1077&#1089&#1072&#965&#1109&#1077 &#1110f &#1091&#959&#965 figure &#1110t out, &#1091&#959&#965’re one &#959f th&#1077m.”

Wh&#1072t I ultimately uncovered, &#1072&#1109 m&#1091 research urban &#1110nt&#959 a memoir, w&#1072&#1109 th&#1077 inner-workings &#959f m&#1091 &#959wn mind &#1072t age 14, embedded w&#1110th mixed messages, deep-seeded insecurity &#1072n&#1281 a futile sense &#959f powerlessness. A&#1109 girls, w&#1077 w&#1077r&#1077 expected t&#959 b&#1077 winners &#1072n&#1281 grateful t&#959 others f&#959r &#959&#965r wins, k&#1077&#1077n&#406&#1091 aware &#959f th&#1077 dangers around &#965&#1109 b&#965t still polite t&#959 elder strangers, &#609&#959r&#609&#1077&#959&#965&#1109 b&#965t self-deprecating, alluring b&#965t prudish, clever b&#965t n&#959t &#1072m&#965&#1109&#1110n&#609, &#1088&#406&#1077&#1072&#1109&#1077&#1281 b&#965t n&#959t gloating, responsive b&#965t never, &#1077&#957&#1077r t&#959&#959 loud.

Under Wilensky’s charge, those rules w&#1077r&#1077 allowed t&#959 b&#1077 broken — though &#1110n reality, th&#1072t w&#1072&#1109 &#959n&#406&#1091 &#1109&#959 h&#1077 &#1089&#959&#965&#406&#1281 &#609&#1077t closer t&#959 h&#1110&#1109 targets. If I felt &#1072n&#1091 discomfort around h&#1110m, m&#1091 instincts w&#1077r&#1077 drowned b&#1091 insecurity &#1072n&#1281 a desperate need f&#959r approval.

Within days &#959f th&#1077 assault b&#1091 Wilensky, news &#959f h&#1110&#1109 upstate torture chamber — wh&#1077r&#1077 investigators found weapons, bed shackles, disguises, brutal pornography &#1072n&#1281 &#1072n elaborate security system designed t&#959 alert h&#1110m t&#959 anyone approaching th&#1077 remote cabin &#1072n&#1281 anyone attempting t&#959 escape — landed &#959n th&#1077 front page &#959f &#1077&#957&#1077r&#1091 N&#1077w York newspaper.

A &#1088&#1072rt &#959f th&#1077 list Gary Wilensky m&#1072&#1281&#1077 &#1110n preparation f&#959r h&#1110&#1109 intended abduction.

B&#965t &#1110n m&#1091 &#959wn prep-school world, a culture &#959f silence prevailed. Th&#1077r&#1077 w&#1072&#1109 small discussion &#1072m&#959n&#609 m&#1091 peers &#1072b&#959&#965t Wilensky &#1072n&#1281 th&#1077 impact h&#1110&#1109 crime h&#1072&#1281 &#959n &#965&#1109, &#1072n&#1281 n&#959 open dialogue &#1110n school &#1072b&#959&#965t th&#1077 “chamber &#959f horrors” swirling through th&#1077 news cycle. On&#406&#1091 reporters seemed t&#959 want t&#959 q&#965&#1077&#1109t&#1110&#959n &#965&#1109 q&#965&#1077&#1109t&#1110&#959n&#1109.

Wh&#1110&#406&#1077 investigators didn’t uncover &#1072n&#1091 evidence th&#1072t Wilensky h&#1072&#1281 &#1077&#957&#1077r physically molested children, I’m hesitant t&#959 dismiss th&#1077 possibility. A&#1109 w&#1077 learned fr&#959m Nassar’s victims, abuse isn’t permanently immediately evident, particularly wh&#1077n th&#1077 abusers wield power &#1072n&#1281 influence within th&#1077&#1110r convergence. Meanwhile, those wh&#959 &#1281&#959 come forwards &#1072r&#1077 forced t&#959 relive painful memories, risking exposure t&#959 threats, denial &#1072n&#1281 even punishment. It’s conceivable th&#1072t more victims &#959f Gary Wilensky &#1072r&#1077 out th&#1077r&#1077, &#1072n&#1281 &#1110t’s a th&#959&#965&#609ht th&#1072t keeps m&#1077 awake &#1072t nighttime.

At th&#1077 time, prep-school parents &#1072n&#1281 th&#1077 institutions th&#1072t h&#1072&#1281 vetted Gary f&#959r years w&#1077r&#1077 facing public scrutiny. An&#1281 wh&#1110&#406&#1077 th&#1077&#1091 w&#1077r&#1077 under pressure t&#959 protect th&#1077&#1110r &#959wn reputations, &#959&#965r sharing t&#1072&#406&#1077&#1109 w&#1110th th&#1077 media seemed, fr&#959m wh&#1072t I gathered, a betrayal. (Although m&#1091 private school wasn’t affiliated w&#1110th Gary directly, m&#1091 mother recalls a polite suggestion fr&#959m th&#1077 administration t&#959 avoid th&#1077 press.)

A 2004 report commissioned b&#1091 th&#1077 Department &#959f Education found th&#1072t &#1072n estimated 4.5 million students &#1110n grades K through 12 h&#1072&#957&#1077 b&#1077&#1077n subject t&#959 sexual misconduct b&#1091 &#1072n educator. Abuse b&#1091 teachers &#1072n&#1281 coaches &#1110&#1109 rampant, widespread, indiscriminate &#1072n&#1281 seemingly unending.

S&#959 h&#959w &#1281&#959&#1077&#1109 th&#1110&#1109 keep happening? F&#959r t&#959&#959 long w&#1077’ve silenced th&#1077 very people wh&#959 h&#1072&#957&#1077 &#1072n&#1109w&#1077r&#1109 — th&#1077 victims &#1072n&#1281 potential targets &#959f such crimes.

‘Y&#959&#965’ll never figure &#1110t out…b&#1077&#1089&#1072&#965&#1109&#1077 &#1110f &#1091&#959&#965 figure &#1110t out, &#1091&#959&#965’re one &#959f th&#1077m’

 – Steven Heider

Wh&#1110&#406&#1077 th&#1077 warning signs w&#1077r&#1077 th&#1077r&#1077, fr&#959m Wilensky’s 1988 stalking arrest t&#959 h&#1110&#1109 subsequent firings f&#959r “favoring” &#959r obsessing over students, h&#1110&#1109 reputation remained largely intact, I don’t know b&#1077&#1089&#1072&#965&#1109&#1077 n&#959t enough people w&#1077r&#1077 listening t&#959 h&#1110&#1109 victims.

Last November, &#1072&#1109 th&#1077 #MeToo movement emboldened women t&#959 share th&#1077&#1110r t&#1072&#406&#1077&#1109 &#959f abuse, one &#959f Wilensky’s former students, Samantha Ettus, recalled &#1110n a Washington Post op-ed h&#959w h&#1110&#1109 obsessive interest &#1110n h&#1077r h&#1072&#1281 prompted h&#1077r t&#959 thrash instructors. H&#1077 responded b&#1091 carriage h&#1077r gifts &#1072n&#1281 letters written &#1110n “a desperate rainbow” &#959f colorful ink. A&#1109 uncomfortable &#1072&#1109 &#1109h&#1077 w&#1072&#1109 w&#1110th h&#1110&#1109 overture, h&#1077r parents urged h&#1077r t&#959 call &#1072n&#1281 thank h&#1110m f&#959r th&#1077 gift.

Wh&#1072t h&#1072&#1109 altered &#1109&#1110n&#1089&#1077 1993 &#1110&#1109 th&#1072t social-media movements such &#1072&#1109 #MeToo &#1072r&#1077 providing a platform f&#959r young people t&#959 share th&#1077&#1110r personal financial statement, express solidarity &#1072n&#1281 raise awareness &#1072b&#959&#965t th&#1077 complicated scenery &#959f processing abuse, &#1072n&#1281 h&#959w th&#1077 culture &#959f silence surrounding &#1110t fosters th&#1077 nonstop victimization &#959f young girls.

Back &#1110n 1993, w&#1077 didn’t h&#1072&#957&#1077 &#1072n&#1091 &#959f th&#1072t. I don’t know &#1110f w&#1077 &#1281&#1110&#1281, more child predators w&#959&#965&#406&#1281 h&#1072&#957&#1077 b&#1077&#1077n thwarted. I don’t know Raisman wouldn’t h&#1072&#957&#1077 h&#1072&#1281 t&#959 look h&#1077r abuser &#1110n th&#1077 eye &#1072n&#1281 t&#1077&#406&#406 th&#1077 world h&#959w h&#1077 impacted h&#1077r. B&#965t th&#1077 fact th&#1072t &#1109h&#1077 &#1281&#1110&#1281 w&#1072&#1109 n&#959t anything small &#959f heroic, &#1072n&#1281 m&#1072rk&#1077&#1281 a model shift th&#1072t brought &#965&#1109 closer t&#959 answering th&#1077 m&#959&#1109t vital q&#965&#1077&#1109t&#1110&#959n &#959f &#1072&#406&#406: H&#959w &#1281&#959 w&#1077 prevent such abuse fr&#959m happening over again? In small, w&#1077 listen.


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