McKayla Maroney claims that USA Gymnastics paid her to keep quiet about the abuse she suffered by former team doctor Larry Nassar in a new lawsuit filed by her attorney, John Manly, on Wednesday, December 20.
USA Gymnastics paid the former Olympian to sign a confidentiality agreement not speak about Nassar’s abuse publicity, according to the court documents obtained by Us Weekly. Maroney used the financial settlement to pay for psychological treatment to cope with Nassar’s abuse. Her lawsuit seeks to nullify the agreement and states it is “illegal, unconscionable, against public policy, and unenforceable.”
“Plaintiff alleges that Defendant USAG had a plan to keep the sexual abuse of Nassar quiet, and allow Nassar to quietly leave USAG, further silence his victims,” according to the court documents.
The lawsuit also accuses USA Gymnastic of wanting the 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.”
The gold medalist, 22, accused Nassar of sexual abuse in October. She wrote a letter to the judge presiding over the federal child pornography case against Nasser earlier this month.
“As it turns out, much to my demise, Dr. Nassar was not a doctor, he in fact is, was and forever shall be, a child molester, and a monster of a human being,” Maroney’s letter to the court, which was obtained by ESPN, read. “He abused my trust, he abused my body and he left scars on my psyche that may never go away.”
The ex-Michigan State University doctor pleaded guilty to molesting 10 girls and possessing child pornography, and was sentenced to 60 years in prison on December 7. More than 130 women and girls, including Olympic gold medalists Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas, have accused him of inappropriate or abusive sexual behavior.
Maroney’s mother, Erin Maroney, also wrote a letter about the massive emotional toll Nassar’s abuse left on her daughter.
“This experience has shattered McKayla,” Erin wrote in her letter to the judge. “She has transformed from a bubbly, positive, loving, world class athlete into a young adult who was deeply depressed, at times suicidal. At times, I was unsure whether I would open her bedroom door and find her dead.”
The United States Olympic Committee denied being a part of the settlement in a statement on Wednesday.
“We were first made aware of the possibility that a USA Gymnastics physician had sexually abused USA Gymnastics athletes in the summer of 2015 when we were informed by USA Gymnastics. At that time USA Gymnastics indicated that they were in the process of contacting the appropriate law enforcement agencies,” USOC spokesperon Mark Jones said in a statement to Us. “We are heartbroken that this abuse occurred, proud of the brave victims that have come forward and grateful that our criminal justice system has ensured that Nasser will never be able to harm another young woman. We are hopeful that with the U.S . Center for SafeSport’s continued education and prevention efforts, as well as their investigative and adjudicative authority, we will help ensure that tragedies like this will never happen again.”
USA Gymnastics also released a statement on Wednesday regarding Maroney’s lawsuit against them.
“USA Gymnastics learned today from media reports that McKayla Maroney has filed a lawsuit against it, the United States Olympic Committee and Michigan State University related to abuse by Larry Nassar. That filing apparently seeks to nullify provisions in a prior settlement agreement between USA Gymnastics and McKayla. Contrary to reports, the concept of confidentiality was initiated by McKayla’s attorney, not USA Gymnastics,” the statement reads. “In 2016, McKayla’s attorney at the time, Gloria Allred, approached USA Gymnastics, requesting that the organization participate in a confidential mediation process. USA Gymnastics cannot speak to the mediation process, which is confidential and privileged under California law. The process culminated in a settlement agreement that included a mutual non-disclosure clause and a mutual non-disparagement clause. The settlement in 2016 was in accordance with state law, despite what has been alleged. At all times, McKayla was represented by Allred, a California-based attorney, who actively negotiated and approved the settlement agreement signed by McKayla.”
“Although USA Gymnastics is disappointed by today’s filing, we applaud McKayla and others who speak up against abusive behavior — including the despicable acts of Larry Nassar,” the statement continues. “We want to work together with McKayla and others to help encourage and empower athletes to speak up against abuse. USA Gymnastics new CEO Kerry Perry is eager to speak personally with McKayla to hear her ideas on how to move the sport forward and to discuss the many safe sport enhancements that have already been implemented at USA Gymnastics.”
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