Los Angeles, California, USA : USA Gymnastics paid Olympian McKayla Maroney $1.25 million to keep quiet about years of sex abuse by Larry Nassar, former Team USA and Michigan State University gymnastics doctor responsible for the largest sex abuse scandal in U.S. sports history involving at least 150 girls and young women. Two weeks ago, Larry Nassar, was sentenced to 60 years in federal prison on child pornography charges. Nassar faces two more sentencing hearings in January.
Maroney’s lawyer, John Manly, says the payment was “an immoral and illegal attempt to silence a victim of child sexual abuse.”
According to Manly, who filed the lawsuit on Maroney’s behalf with the Los Angeles County Superior Court, USA Gymnastics presented Maroney with the settlement several months after IndyStar published an investigative report on the systematic sex abuse taking place within USA Gymnastics, and the full extent of Nassar’s abuse was only beginning to come to light.
The lawsuit says that USA Gymnastics “forced” her to enter into the confidential agreement because she was struggling “after suffering for years from psychological trauma of her sexual abuse at the hands of Nassar, and in need of funds to pay for psychological treatment for her worsening psychological condition.”
Maroney, one of the gold-medal winning Fierce Five gymnasts at the 2012 London Olympics, first brought her claims to USA Gymnastics in May of 2016, a few months after USA Gymnastics quietly let Nassar go and alerted the FBI to the allegations against him, and months before any of Nassar’s victims came forward. But the confidentiality agreement wasn’t signed until December 2016.
Manly wants Maroney to be released from the nondisclosure agreement, and notes that in California, where Maroney lives, a victim of child sexual abuse cannot be forced to sign a confidentiality agreement as a condition of a settlement.
Maroney kept true to the agreement until October 2017, when she wrote about her alleged abuse on Twitter, as a part of #MeToo campaign. she even recalled one time when he drugged her. Her Twitter account @McKaylaMaroney is not now available on the social media platform.
Two of Maroney’s teammates in London — Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman — have also come forward as survivors of Nassar’s abuse.
The deal also reportedly included a $100,000 penalty if the agreement was violated or spoken of publicly. It is undisclosed whether USA Gymnastics sought the monetary penalty for the settlement violation from Maroney.
Nassar was employed by USA Gymnastics for two decades until he was fired in 2015 after athletes complained about him. In 2016, two athletes publicly accused him of sexual assault. Since then, some 140 girls have filed complaints against him. He has already begun serving the decades-long prison sentences handed down earlier this year for abuse and pornography offenses.