Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney said USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar sexually abused her the first time he examined her.
In her first interview since she testified against Nassar, Maroney said she was harassed “hundreds of times” — in fact every time she had a session with the now-imprisoned doctor.
“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 said in an NBC interview that airs on Sunday.
She recounted ways in which Nassar would manipulate her to keep his abhorrent actions a secret.
“He didn’t say it in a way that was like mean or anything like that. 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 explained.
Nassar was convicted of up to 175 years in prison for sexually harassing more than 260 athletes and possession of child pornography. Maroney and several other U.S. gymnasts testified against him for sexually assaulting them.
U.S. gymnasts have strict regulations about their weight, and Maroney explained how Nassar would bring her food to show affection and then used that gesture against her.
“I would’ve starved at the Olympics if I didn’t have him bring me food,” Maroney said. “Your coaches are just always watching you and wanting to keep you skinny. There are other things about the culture that are also messed up that he used against us.”
Another disturbing aspect about Maroney’s story is the disappointing role of the USA Gymnastics during this entire ordeal. The organization barred her from speaking about her haunting encounters with Nassar. She was later granted permission to do so, breaking her free from the confidentiality agreement.
Maroney talked about the substandard response from the USA Gymnastics of an extremely grave issue when attending an event for the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children in New York City.
“I wasn’t listened to, cared about or believed, and all of those things need to be weeded out of society because that’s where things went wrong,” she said.
Maroney also said the organization only seemed to care about “money and medals.”
Maroney’s Olympic teammate Jordyn Wieber and other U.S. gymnast testified in front of the Senate, recounting the horrific ordeal they faced at the hands of Nassar.
“We can’t eradicate all the evils in the world, but there are clearly systematic failings here in the United States Olympic Committee ... that need to be addressed,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said, conceding the USA Gymnastics' callous response to help bring justice to the victims. “We have the responsibility. ... It’s on us.”
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