McKayla Maroney took to Twitter on Wednesday, October 18, to claim she was sexually abused for years by Larry Nassar, the doctor for the U.S. Women’s National Gymnastics team and Olympic team.
— mckayla (@McKaylaMaroney) October 18, 2017
Amid allegations of sexual assault and harassment from multiple actresses against Harvey Weinstein, who has denied accusations of rape, the gymnast shared her own story to explain how common the incidents can be. “People should know that this is not just happening in Hollywood. This is happening everywhere,” she wrote. “Wherever there is a position of power, there seems to be potential for abuse.”
“Dr. Nassar told me that I was receiving ‘medically necessary treatment that he had been performing on patients for over 30 years.’ 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,” Maroney, 21, wrote. “It seemed whenever and wherever this man could find the chance, I was ‘treated.”
According to ESPN, the doctor is currently facing 22 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct from 125 women and he has already pleaded guilty to federal child pornography charges in July, although he will not be sentenced until November 27. Nassar also faces charges in state court in Michigan, largely related to women who allege that he digitally penetrated them during medical exams for his own sexual gratification.
The former Olympian detailed one particularly terrifying alleged night with Nassar. “For me, the scariest night of my life happened when I was 15 years old,” she wrote. “I had flown all day and night with the team to get to Tokyo. He’d given me a sleeping pill for the flight, 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.”
“Our silence has given the wrong people power for too long, and it’s time to take our power back,” Maroney wrote in conclusion of her post. “And remember, it’s never too late to speak up.”
USA Gymnastics commended Maroney for speaking out about the alleged abuse. “USA Gymnastics admires the courage of those, like McKayla Maroney, who have come forward to share their personal experiences with sexual abuse. Because of their strength in coming forward, predators can be held accountable for their actions. We, like so many others, are outraged and disgusted by the conduct of which Larry Nassar is accused,” the organization told Us Weekly in a statement. “We are sorry that any athlete has been harmed during her or his gymnastics career.”
“We are strengthening and enhancing our policies and procedures regarding abuse, as well as expanding our educational efforts to increase awareness of signs to watch for and reporting suspicions of abuse, including the obligation to immediately report,” the statement continued. “USA Gymnastics, its members and community are committed to working together to keep our athletes as safe as possible.”
Maroney won a team gold medal in 2012 as well as a silver medal for the individual vault. Her disappointment with losing out on the gold was famously captured onscreen as she crossed her arms and pursed her lips, leading to a now-viral meme.
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