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McKayla Maroney Sues USA Gymnastics For Trying To 'Conceal' Doctor's Sexual Abuses

McKayla Maroney had signed a confidentiality provision as part of a monetary settlement in late 2016.
Ronald Martinez
Getty Images
McKayla Maroney had signed a confidentiality provision as part of a monetary settlement in late 2016.

Olympic medalist McKayla Maroney has filed a lawsuit against USA Gymnastics, saying the organization sought to silence her claims of sexual abuse against disgraced team doctor Larry Nassar last year.

Maroney, who earned international fame during the 2012 Summer Games, alleges that American gymnastics' governing body not only failed to protect athletes from Nassar, but also had her sign a confidentiality agreement last December — after the first of more than 100 women and girls began coming forward with their stories of abuse.

Maroney believes the monetary settlement included a confidentiality provision primarily so that USA Gymnastics — in the words of her complaint — "could further conceal and shield from public scrutiny, outside investigation, and law enforcement, the true nature of NASSAR's horrific sexual abuse of minors."

The complaint did not disclose the amount Maroney was paid as part of the settlement, but The Wall Street Journaland The Los Angeles Times report it was $1.25 million. Maroney's filing says she entered the agreement "to obtain funds necessary to pay for lifesaving psychological treatment and care" after her alleged abuse.

Her suit Wednesday aims to nullify that deal as a "direct violation" of California law. It also names as defendants Nassar, the U.S. Olympic Committee and Michigan State University, Nassar's employer for roughly two decades.

"A simple fact is this: If Michigan State University, USA Gymnastics and the US Olympic Committee had paid attention to any of the red flags in Larry Nassar's behavior, I never would have met him, I never would have been 'treated' by him and I never would have been abused by him," Maroney said in a statementreleased Wednesday.

Earlier this month, the doctor was sentenced to 60 years in prison after pleading guilty to criminal sexual conduct and child pornography. Scores of women and girls, including Maroney's 2012 Olympic teammates Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas, have accused Nassar of sexually assaulting them under the guise of medical treatment.

NBC reports that USA Gymnastics "quietly fired" him in June 2015 after receiving multiple complaints against him and that Nassar "continued to treat, and allegedly abuse, patients at his Michigan State University sports medicine practice."

As NPR's Laurel Wamsley reported, Maroney posted her own story on social media just two months ago:

" 'I had a dream to go to the Olympics,' she writes in a statement posted to Twitter, 'and the things that I had to endure to get there, were unnecessary, and disgusting.'

" 'Dr. Nassar told me that I was receiving 'medically necessary treatment that he had been performing on patients for over 30 years," ' she writes. 'It started when I was 13 years old, at one of my first National Team training camps, in Texas, and it didn't end until I left the sport.' She says the abuse continued in London during the 2012 games.

"Maroney says the scariest night of her life happened when she was 15 years old, when the team traveled to Tokyo. She says Nassar gave her a sleeping pill to help her sleep on the flight, and when she awoke she was alone with him in his hotel room, 'getting a "treatment.' " She does not describe his specific actions.

" 'I thought I was going to die that night,' she writes."

She elaborated on the abuse in her complaint, saying she was repeatedly molested by Nassar — across three continents and often at competitions "hosted, sanctioned, supervised, and/or endorsed" by the U.S. Olympic Commitee.

When Maroney tweeted her story in October, USA Gymnastics applauded her in a public statement.

"USA Gymnastics admires the courage of those, like McKayla Maroney, who have come forward to share their personal experiences with sexual abuse," the group said, adding: "We, like so many others, are outraged and disgusted by the conduct of which Larry Nassar is accused. We are sorry that any athlete has been harmed during her or his gymnastics career."

The organization did not immediately offer public comment on Maroney's allegations.

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Colin Dwyer covers breaking news for NPR. He reports on a wide array of subjects — from politics in Latin America and the Middle East, to the latest developments in sports and scientific research.
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