McKayla Maroney says USA Gymnastics tried to silence her abuse story
by Sarah Fitzpatrick and Tracy Connor
When Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney came forward this fall with her story of being repeatedly molested by the team's doctor, USA Gymnastics publicly praised her for having the "courage" to hold a predator accountable.
But a lawsuit filed Wednesday by Maroney alleges that USA Gymnastics actually tried to silence her nearly a year earlier by making her sign a non-disclosure agreement as part of a financial settlement she needed to pay for psychological treatment.
Maroney's attorney, John Manly, called the confidentiality agreement "hypocritical, immoral and in this case illegal."
USA Gymnastics said in a statement that "the concept of confidentiality" was initiated by Maroney's attorney at the time of the settlement, Gloria Allred, who asked the organization to take part in a "confidential mediation process.” ....
“That agreement was written by USA Gymnastics lawyers, and it was designed to do one thing, which is keep their secret from the public.”
The agreement was inked just a few months after the first public accusations against Dr. Larry Nassar, who has since pleaded guilty to molesting 10 girls and possessing child pornography. At the time, law enforcement was encouraging women who were abused under the guise of treatments to come forward.
Maroney's suit, 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."
"Plaintiff alleges that Defendant USAG had a plan to keep the sexual abuse of Nassar quiet, and allow Nassar to quietly leave USAG, further silencing his victims," the suit charges....
Since then, more than 140 girls and women have filed complaints against Nassar. In October, Maroney became the highest-profile athlete to go public, posting on Twitter a harrowing account of abuse that allegedly occurred on three continents as Nassar traveled with the team.
"I had a dream to go to the Olympics, and the things that I had to endure to get there, were unnecessary, and disgusting," she wrote....
Nassar was sentenced this month to 60 years in federal prison on the pornography charges and is awaiting sentencing on state sex abuse charges.....