Olympic gold medal gymnast McKayla Maroney says Larry Nassar, the disgraced team doctor convicted of sexually assaulting former patients, molested her hundreds of times over a period of five years.
“He said that nobody would understand this and the sacrifice that it takes to get to the Olympics. So you can't tell people this," Maroney told NBC's Dateline in an interview airing Sunday night. It is her first in-depth interview since she revealed last year that she was a victim of Nassar.
"I actually was like, 'That makes sense. I don't want to tell anybody about this. I didn't believe that they would understand," she said.
Maroney, 22, said Nassar abused her every single time she saw him, beginning with their very first meeting.
Nassar's victims have said the doctor secured their trust before using supposed medical treatments as an excuse to molest them. Maroney said Nassar won her over by buying her bread after grueling workouts.
Earlier this week, Maroney spoke out against Nassar at a luncheon for a child-protection charity. She blasted not only him, but also USA Gymnastics, the U.S. Olympic Committee and Michigan State University, where Nassar had a sports medicine practice.
"All they cared about is money and medals. It didn't seem they cared about anything else," Maroney said at the luncheon, according to NBC News.
In 2016, USA Gymnastics had Maroney sign a nondisclosure in a secret settlement, according to the Associated Press. Despite that, USA Gymnastics has issued a statement in support of Maroney, stating in part, “USA Gymnastics not only admires McKayla Maroney for her courage, but also for her commitment to speaking out against abuse.”
Maroney testified about her abuse in January, along with 132 other women and girls who gave victim-impact statements about Nassar's abuse. Nassar pleaded guilty to seven counts of criminal sexual conduct. Part of Nassar's criminal sentencing involved victim-impact testimony. He was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison in January, after days of testimony from victims. Nassar was previously convicted on child pornography charges and received a 60-year sentence.
Olympic gold medal gymnast Jordyn Wieber, 22, filed a lawsuit against Michigan State University, USA Gymnastics, the U.S. Olympic Committee for accusations similar to Maroney's, according to the Lansing State Journal in Michigan. She said they failed to protect her and hundreds of other victims. More than 260 others are also suing the three organizations, claiming Nassar abused them and the organizations didn't do enough to stop him.
[Photo: Getty Images]
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