Olympic gold medalist McKayla Maroney says she was victim of sexual abuse

Olympic gold medalist McKayla Maroney said she was a victim of sexual abuse over several years starting at the age of 13 when she was invited to a USA Gymnastics national team training camp.

Maroney wrote on Twitter that she was sexually abused by Dr. Larry Nassar, a longtime doctor for USA Gymnastics who has been accused of assaulting at least 140 girls and women. He is on trial in Michigan facing sexual assault charges and awaits sentencing on federal charges. 

Maroney said she was told by Nassar that she was receiving "medically necessary treatment that he had been performing on patients for over 30 years."

The abuse continued until she left the sport, Maroney said. "It seemed whenever and wherever this man could find the chance, I was 'treated.'"

The 21-year-old from Long Beach, Calif., said she was abused before her U.S. team won the Olympic gold at the 2012 London Olympics and before she won silver on the vault.

Maroney described an incident that she said occurred when she was 15 and had traveled to the 2011 world championships in Tokyo. She said Nassar had given her a sleeping pill "and the next thing i know I was all alone with him in his hotel room getting a 'treatment.' I thought I was going to die that night."

She posted the tweet describing the abuse late Monday night with the #MeToo hashtag.

"People should know that this is not just happening in Hollywood," Maroney wrote. "This is happening everywhere. Wherever there is a position of power, there seems to be potential for abuse. I had a dream to go to the Olympics, and the things that I had to endure to get there were unnecessary and disgusting."'

Maroney dreamed of becoming an Olympian while watching the 2004 Olympics. "From the outside looking in, it's an amazing story. I did it. I got there, but not without a price," she wrote.

In July, Nassar pleaded guilty to federal child pornography charges, and faces 22 to 27 years in prison when he’s sentenced Dec. 7. He still faces 33 charges of criminal sexual conduct in Michigan.

According to the Lansing State Journal, which is part of the USA TODAY NETWORK, more than 140 women and girls have said Nassar sexually abused them, with nearly all of them saying it happened during medical appointments. 

USA Gymnastics CEO Steve Penny resigned in March under pressure from the U.S. Olympic Committee.  USA Gymnastics has not hired his replacement.

Aly Raisman, captain of the past two Olympic teams and Maroney’s teammate in London, has criticized USA Gymnastics and the USOC for their response to the sexual abuse crisis. Before the national championships in August, she said she feels they’re more concerned about sweeping it under the rug or protecting themselves legally than making sure it never happens again. 

“The people at the very top, that work at the office every single day at USA Gymnastics, they need to do better,” Raisman said. 

Nassar was the USA Gymnastics team physician for nearly 20 years until 2015 and worked with gymnasts at four Olympic Games. Two former gymnasts first told the Indianapolis Star last year that they were abused by Nassar during the 1990s and early 2000s. They said he molested them during multiple treatments.

The Indianapolis Star, which is part of the USA TODAY NETWORK, has reported more than 360 cases in which gymnasts have accused coaches of sexual transgressions over 20 years. 

 

 

© 2017 USATODAY.COM


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