Olympic gold medalist McKayla Maroney says she was victim of sexual abuse
Olympic gymnastics gold medalist McKayla Maroney says she was sexually assaulted by a USA gymnastics doctor and was sexually abused for several years starting at age 13.
Maroney shared her story on Twitter and posted under the hashtag #MeToo.
She said that she was sexually abused by Dr. Larry Nassar, who is facing several sexual assault charges and pled guilty this summer on charges of obtaining and possessing child pornography and destroying computer files to hamper a federal investigation. He faces 22 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and could receive a sentence of life in prison. He will be sentenced on Nov. 27. Nassar worked with USA Gymnastics for nearly three decades as a trainer and medical coordinator.
Nassar is accused of sexually abusing over 140 women and girls.
Maroney said Nassar told her that she was receiving "medically necessary treatment that he had been performing on patients for over 30 years." Nassar and his attorneys have defended the intra-vaginal and intra-rectal treatments as accepted medical procedures.
"It seemed whenever and wherever this man could find the chance, I was 'treated,' she said.
"People should know that this is not just happening in Hollywood," Maroney said. "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 was a member of the "Fierce Five" U.S. women's gymnastics team that won gold at the 2012 Olympics in London. Before Maroney issued her statement, 2000 bronze medalist Jamie Dantzscher was the only other Olympian to publicly allege abuse by Nassar.
Maroney's full post can be read below:
"Everyone's words over the past few days have been so inspiring to me. I know how hard it is to speak publicly about something so horrible, and so personal, because it's happened to me too.
People should know that this is not just happening in Hollywood. 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.
I was molested by Dr. Larry Nassar, the team doctor for the US Women's National Gymnastics Team, and Olympic Team. 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. It seemed whenever and wherever this man could find the chance, I was "treated." It happened in London before my team and I won the gold medal, and It happened before I won my Silver. For me, the scariest night of my life happened when I was 15 years old. 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.
The Olympics is something that brings people hope, and joy. It inspires people to fight for their dreams, because anything is possible with hard work and dedication. I remember watching the 2004 Olympics. I was 8 years old, and I told myself that one day I would wear that red, white and blue leotard, and compete for my country. Sure, from the outside looking in, It's an amazing story. I did it. I got there, but not without a price.
Things have to change...but how do we begin? I'm no expert but here are my thoughts;
One: Speaking out, and bringing awareness to the abuse that is happening.
Two: People, Institutions, Organizations, especially those in positions of power, etc. need to be held accountable for their inappropriate actions and behavior.
Three: Educate, and prevent, no matter the cost.
Four: Have zero tolerance for abusers and those who protect them.
Is it possible to put an end to this type of abuse? Is it possible for survivors to speak out, without putting careers, and dreams in jeopardy? I hope so.
Our silence has given the wrong people power for too long, and it's time to take our power back.
And remember, it's never too late to speak up."