Star gymnast received $1.25 million last winter to buy her silence, sources say
Los Angeles Times
LOS ANGELES — Gymnast McKayla Maroney filed suit Wednesday against the United States Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics, alleging that officials had her sign a confidential financial settlement to keep secret the sexual abuse she suffered as a teen by disgraced team doctor Larry Nassar.
In papers filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Maroney, a gold medalist and one of the nation’s best-known Olympic athletes, accused the USOC of covering up its knowledge of Nassar’s misconduct as part of a “culture and atmosphere that conceals known and suspected sexual abusers.”
The USOC and USA Gymnastics could not immediately be reached for comment.
Maroney, a Los Angeles resident, said that USA Gymnastics paid her the settlement, in violation of California state law, in return for her not publicly disclosing Nassar’s abuse. The documents do not disclose how much she was paid, but sources familiar with the deals say that Maroney received $1.25 million last winter. Maroney’s lawsuit seeks to nullify the agreement.
Maroney’s attorney, John Manly, said in an interview that sports officials delayed reporting Nassar’s misconduct to authorities, including the FBI, allowing him to continue to abuse underage athletes.
Earlier this month, a federal judge sentenced Nassar to 60 years in prison. He had pleaded guilty in November to sexually assaulting several female gymnasts and possessing child pornography. Though he was not charged with sexually abusing Maroney, she provided a victim impact statement before the sentencing.
“He abused my trust, he abused my body and he left scars on my psyche that may never go away,” Maroney said in that statement. “He needs to be behind bars so he will never prey upon another child.”
Maroney’s suit also names as a defendant Michigan State University, where Nassar worked as a doctor. The complaint alleges that MSU received complaints from two female student athletes there, including a women’s softball player, of improper touching during medical treatment starting in the late 1990s. Despite this knowledge, the lawsuit claims, MSU allowed Nassar to treat minor gymnasts affiliated with USA Gymnastics, including Maroney.
In the complaint, Maroney alleges that Nassar molested her “before, during and after trainings and competitions,” including before the World Gymnastics Championships in Tokyo in 2011, when she was 15.
According to Maroney, USA Gymnastics “coerced” her into signing the confidential settlement as she was still reeling from the sexual abuse, and “in need of funds to pay for psychological treatment for her worsening psychological condition.” The lawsuit claims that the agreement included a “non-disparagement clause and confidentiality provision,” which could penalize her $100,000 if she spoke of the abuse or the settlement.
Maroney’s attorney Manly contends that the settlement was illegal, as California law prohibits confidential civil agreements involving potential felony sex crimes, according to the suit.