McKayla Maroney was far from the only victim of perverted Olympic women’s teams Doctor Larry Nassar, but she was certainly one of the most high profile ones. Having won gold in London for the gymnastics team, Maroney quickly became something of a hero back home and her story has outraged much of the nation. (And rightly so.) But now the details of what happened to her after the sexual abuse are making the tale even worse.
This week Maroney accused the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and USA Gymnastics of basically conspiring to keep her quiet with a confidential settlement agreement signed off on by her agent. And now she’s taking them to court to get the agreement lifted. (LA Times)
Gymnast McKayla Maroney filed suit Wednesday against the United States Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics, alleging that officials had her sign an confidential financial settlement in order to keep secret her sexual abuse as a minor at the hands of disgraced team doctor Larry Nassar.
In the court papers filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Maroney—a gold medalist and one of the best-known Olympic athletes in the United States—accused the United States Olympic Committee of covering up its knowledge of Nassar’s misconduct as part of a “culture and atmosphere that conceals known and suspected sexual abusers.”
United States Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics could not immediately be reached for comment.
Maroney was allegedly paid a $1.25M settlement as part of the agreement, though she did provide a victim impact statement prior to sentencing after Nassar confessed to the horror show he’d been running with America’s female athletes. So if there was an agreement in writing, that means that somebody knew about the allegations against Nassar and chose to keep it quiet. The USOC is claiming they weren’t involved, but this has the fingerprints of USA Gymnastics all over it.
We should make clear that there’s a key difference between this situation and, for example, the House and Senate slush funds for settling sexual harassment suits. (Though both are awful, of course.) Those congressional cases should never have been hidden from the public, but at least the women who signed on to the agreements were adults who made the choice to take the deal. Maroney and most of her teammates who fell into Nassar’s evil grasp were children.
We’re not talking about some movie producer who got handsy with an adult actress here. Nassar is a pedophile and child abuser of the lowest order. (And there’s no need to say “alleged” here since he’s already confessed.) First of all, holding her to a non-disclosure agreement entered into over things which happened when she was too young to legally give consent is an idea which should be tossed out on principle. But perhaps even more so, what is wrong with USA Gymnastics that they would even consider accepting such an agreement in the first place? We’re talking about a serial child molester here. Who agrees to keep that quiet?
I hope Maroney was paid off every cent she could squeeze out of them and gets to keep it, not that the money will do anything to mitigate the mental and emotional scars she will carry for the rest of her life. And if she wants to tell her story and let the rest of the world know just how evil this monster was, she should be allowed to do that as well.