McKayla Maroney's lawyer says USA Gymnastics paid for her silence

McKayla Maroney has filed suit over a confidentiality agreement. (AP)
McKayla Maroney has filed suit over a confidentiality agreement. (AP)

Note: This story contains graphic details of abuse which some readers may find disturbing. 

A lawyer for Olympic icon McKayla Maroney is charging that USA Gymnastics paid her to keep silent about abuse she suffered at the hands of former team doctor Larry Nassar.

John Manly, an attorney for the gold medal-winning gymnast, has filed suit on her behalf against USA Gymnastics in Los Angeles Superior Court. He contends the organization sought to buy her silence, paying her a reported $1.25 million, according to the Wall Street Journal, while she was emotionally traumatized from the effects of Nassar’s abuse.

“I want people to understand that this kid had no choice. She couldn’t function. She couldn’t work,” Manly told ESPN. “They [USAG] were willing to sacrifice the health and well-being of one of the most famous gymnasts in the world because they didn’t want the world to know they were protecting a pedophile doctor.”

Nassar has pleaded guilty to 10 counts of criminal sexual conduct, and is scheduled to be sentenced in Michigan in January. He is already serving 60 years in prison on child pornography charges. Nassar, who served as USA Gymnastics’ doctor during four Olympic Games, also faces civil lawsuits charging he abused more than 140 women during medical exams.

Maroney violated the confidentiality agreement when she posted about Nassar on Twitter in October. While she has not spoken publicly since then, both she and her mother Erin submitted statements to the court overseeing Nassar’s sentencing. As ESPN noted, the details of that abuse are disturbing, as in the case of one incident in Tokyo in 2011:

“[Nassar] drugged her, made her lay nude on a treatment table, straddled her and digitally penetrated her while rubbing his erect penis against her,” Erin Maroney wrote. “She was only 15 years old. She said to me, ‘Mom I thought I was going to die.’ This experience has shattered McKayla. 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.”

Manly dismissed the possibility that Maroney could be facing a countersuit from USA Gymnastics for violating the confidentiality agreement. “Confidentiality agreements in child sex abuse cases are unlawful in the state of California and have been for years,” he told ESPN. “We’re basically saying USAG and its lawyers violated the law by asking McKayla to agree to it and that she should be free to talk about her abuse to whomever she wants, whenever she wants.”

Maroney’s lawsuit charges that Nassar abused her continuously over a period of five years, and also took photographs of her, possibly during examinations. Also named in the suit are the United States Olympic Committee, Nassar’s employer Michigan State University and Nassar himself.
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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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