Five years after McKayla Maroney soared to fame and made headlines with her success at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games as a member of the “Fierce Five” of the American women’s gymnastics team where she took home a gold and a silver medal, Maroney is making headlines again, but for a very different reason. The star athlete, who retired last year for medical reasons, has filed a lawsuit against USA Gymnastics, claiming that the organization tried to silence her claims of sexual misconduct and abuse against former women’s gymnastics team doctor, Larry Nassar in 2016.
In the suit, the twenty-two-year-old Olympic medalist alleges that the American gymnastics’ officials had Maroney and others sign confidentiality agreements last year that effectively protected Nassar from the allegations of more than a hundred women instead of protecting Nassar’s victims. For Maroney at least, a monetary settlement was included in the deal and in her own words, she stated that she believes this was so that USA Gymnastics — “could further conceal and shield from public scrutiny, outside investigation and law enforcement, the true nature of Nassar’s horrific sexual abuse of minors.”
According to Business Insider, the amount of Maroney’s settlement was $1.25 million though Maroney has neither confirmed nor denied the amount but her paperwork in the lawsuit states that she initially agreed to the terms of the monetary settlement and confidentiality agreement because she needed “to obtain funds necessary to pay for lifesaving psychological treatment and care” due to Nassar’s claimed abuse. Two of Maroney’s former “Fierce Five” teammates, Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman have come forward to accuse Nassar of assaulting them as well.
Just weeks earlier, Nassar was in front of a judge on charges of criminal sexual conduct and possession of child photos. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to sixty years in prison for his crimes. NBC was the first to report that Nassar had been fired by USA Gymnastics as of June 2015. USA Gymnastics has not offered a public comment on Maroney’s accusations at the time of this writing, but they issued a statement praising Maroney for her courage in coming forward and making their outrage of the allegations against Nassar clear.
Maroney’s lawsuit, which targets USA Gymnastics as well as Nassar, The U.S. Olympic Committee and Nassar’s employer, Michigan State University, claims that the initial deal she made with USA Gymnastics, to keep quiet about Nassar’s alleged abuse in exchange for a monetary settlement, is null and void because the entire deal was a “direct violation of California law.” While this case is just getting started, Maroney joins an army of famous women who have stepped forward this year to accuse men of power, wealth and influence of sexual assault. The former Olympic athlete who became even more famous for her “unimpressed face” that was made into a meme, took to Twitter to write about the incident. “I had a dream to go to the Olympics,” Maroney posted. “And the things that I had to endure to get there were unnecessary and disgusting.”
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