Since publicly coming forward in October to share her story of abuse at the hands of disgraced former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, former Olympian McKayla Maroney’s bravery has been powerful. Although she faced a possible fine from her sport’s governing body for breaking a nondisclosure agreement (which Chrissy Teigen offered to pay if the org went through with charging her), Maroney sued USA Gymnastics for the cover-up, blaming their complicity, in part, for why she left her sport.
Now, during Nassar’s sentencing on seven counts of sexual assault, Maroney wrote her own victim’s impact statement, which was read by prosecutors in her absence during the court proceedings. And, as with every step she’s made since coming forward, Maroney’s statement was honest and brave.
“For as long as I can remember, gymnastics was my life,” Maroney’s statement began. From the age of 18 months, the Olympic medalist was in the gym, her “home away from home,” with her first real competition at age seven. Wearing a sparkly leotard, getting to perform in front of people, everything was perfect for Maroney then — she knew at that age that she would be heading to the Olympics.
“I remember watching the 2004 Olympics,” she wrote. “I was eight years old, and I told myself that one day I would wear that red, white, and blue leotard, and compete for my country. Sure, from the outside looking in, it’s a remarkable and amazing story. I did it. I got there, but not without a price.”
When she made the national team at age 14, she was told by both USA Gymnastics and the Olympic committee that Nassar was the man who would help her get the gold. He’d been treating gymnasts’ injuries for more than 30 years, and if he was trusted by her coaches, she thought she could trust him too.
“As it turns out, much to my demise, Dr. Nassar was not a doctor; he, in fact, is, was, and forever shall be, a child molester, and a monster of a human being. End of story! He abused my trust, he abused my body and he left scars on my psyche that may never go away.”
The abuse Maroney says she suffered at the hands of the doctor started then, and didn’t end until she left the sport at age 18. The now 22-year-old said that in the four years she was with the national team, anytime Nassar could get her alone for his “treatments,” he would. She also explained how Nassar was able to continue with his abuse for so long.
“Because the National Team training camps did not allow parents to be present, my mom and dad were unable to observe what Nassar was doing, and this has imposed a terrible and undeserved burden of guilt on my loving family,” she wrote.
Explaining that abuse is happening everywhere, Maroney also used her statement to take USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University to task. Both organizations have been accused of complicity in allowing Nassar to continue to work with children over the years, including allowing Nassar to practice medicine in Texas where the USA Gymnastics training center is — a state that the former doctor did not have a medical license to practice in at all.
“It is my hope that federal and state law enforcement agencies will not close the book on the Larry Nassar scandal after he receives his just punishment,” Maroney concluded. “It is time to hold the leadership of Michigan State University, USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic Committee accountable for allowing, and in some cases enabling, his crimes.”
“Our silence has given the wrong people power for too long, and it’s time to take our power back.”
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(Photos via Ronald Martinez/Getty Images +Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for GBK Productions)