Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Olympian says she was paid to stay silent over sexual abuse

McKayla Maroney

Olympic medallist McKayla Maroney has alleged that USA Gymnastics paid her to sign a non-disclosure financial settlement to remain silent over the sexual abuse she suffered by team doctor Larry Nassar.

In a lawsuit filed on Wednesday against the governing body, Maroney’s attorney, John Manly, called the confidentiality agreement “hypocritical, immoral and in this case illegal”.

“Those responsible for this should be removed from the Olympic movement and USA Gymnastics,” Manly told NBC News. “If they would treat one of the most famous athletes in world like this, how poorly would they treat a recreational gymnast abused by her coach.”

Maroney has also accused the United States Olympic Committee of hiding its knowledge of Nassar’s misconduct as part of a “culture and atmosphere that conceals known and suspected sexual abusers”.

​The gold-medal winner reportedly signed the agreement in the months before October of this year, when she first voiced her allegations against Nassar.

McKayla-Maroney

Maroney’s lawsuit, filed in Superior Court in California, alleges that USA Gymnastics insisted on a confidentiality agreement so “it could further conceal and shield from public scrutiny, outside investigation, and law enforcement, the true nature of Nassar’s horrific sexual abuse of minors.”

Manly told ESPN that the gymnast signed the non-disclosure agreement willingly but was left emotionally traumatised by the ordeal. The court filings do not specify the settlement amount agreed to between the two parties.

The American, who won Team gold and silver in the vault at the 2012 Games, said she was abused by Nassar from the age of 13 until her retirement from the sport last year.

The lawsuit adds that Maroney remains traumatised, gripped by depression and anxiety and terrified by the possibility that Nassar took photographs of her sexual abuse and shared them with other paedophiles.

The former Team USA doctor pleaded guilty in November to sexually abusing more than 140 women and girls under his medical remit. He has already been sentenced to 60 years in federal prison in a separate child pornography case.

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