Sinister twist in disgusting gymnastics sexual abuse scandal
OLYMPIC medallist McKayla Maroney alleges USA Gymnastics tried to silence her for almost a year by making her sign non-disclosure agreements as part of a financial settlement, which she used to pay for psychological treatment, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday (AEDT) in California's Superior Court, per NBC News.
The agreement was allegedly signed months before the initial accusations against former Team USA doctor Dr. Larry Nassar surfaced. He pleaded guilty in November to multiple charges of sexual assault before being sentenced to 60 years in prison the following month in a separate child pornography case.
"Plaintiff alleges that Defendant USAG had a plan to keep the sexual abuse of (Dr. Larry) Nassar quiet, and allow Nassar to quietly leave USAG, further silence his victims," the court documents claim.
Maroney's lawsuit also alleges USA Gymnastics wanted a confidentiality accord 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".
Her suit also alleges Nassar would photograph Maroney under the guise of treatment.
"Nassar would continuously, obsessively and compulsively photograph McKayla Maroney and is believed to have possessed thousands of photographs of McKayla Maroney competing in gymnastics events, training, in everyday situations," the suit alleges.
"McKayla Maroney alleges that she believes photographs were taken of her while Nassar was sexually abusing her under the guise of treatment. McKayla Maroney is further informed and believes, and on that basis alleges, that these photographs were shared by Nassar with other paedophiles for their sexual gratification."
Maroney has continual "distress, anxiety and depression" as she worries that Nassar's photographs might still be circulating among paedophiles on the internet, according to her complaint.
The 22-year-old gymnast made allegations against Nassar earlier this year, with 2012 Olympic teammates Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas later revealing their stories of abuse at Nassar's hands. In letters sent to the judge presiding over Nassar's case, Maroney's mother Erin alleged her daughter had become suicidal as a result of the years of abuse.
"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," Erin wrote, in letters obtained by ESPN.
The lawsuit came hours after reports that Nassar was allowed to treat patients for 16 months while under criminal investigation for sexual misconduct in 2014, records show.
USA Gymnastics praised Maroney's courage in a tweet on her birthday earlier this month.