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McKayla Maroney Says That USA Gymnastics Paid Her to Stay Silent About Her Sexual Abuse

After speaking as one of several U.S. gymnasts to have experienced sexual abuse from former team doctor Larry Nassar, 2012 Olympian McKayla Maroney now claims that USA Gymnastics officials forced her to sign a confidential financial settlement and remain quiet about her experiences with Nassar, The Los Angeles Times reports. Maroney filed a lawsuit against the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and USA Gymnastics on Wednesday, almost two weeks after Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in prison on child pornography charges. Other defendants also include Nassar and Michigan State University, his former place of employment. 

Maroney was allegedly driven toward the confidential agreement in December 2016, following difficult years “from psychological trauma of her sexual abuse at the hands of Nassar and in need of funds to pay for psychological treatment,” her lawsuit says. The confidential settlement was meant to “further conceal and shield from public scrutiny, outside investigation and law enforcement, the true nature of Nassar’s horrific sexual abuse of minors.”

Accompanying her own suit was a similar one that her parents filed this past June under fake names. Maroney’s attorney John Manly, who was not the lawyer that oversaw the initial agreement, called the confidentiality settlement “an immoral and illegal attempt to silence a victim of child sexual abuse.”

The USOC claims that it did not know about the confidential settlement, but on the contrary, USA Gymnastics says that Maroney’s then lawyer, Gloria Allred, was the one who approached the organization about the “concept of confidentiality.” According to USA Gymnastics, the agreement “was in accordance with state law, despite what has been alleged.” 

While USA Gymnastics seems to want to play the innocent card, Manly suggested otherwise, telling NBC News that the organization wrote the agreement in order to “keep their secret from the public.” “Ms. Maroney did not want to enter into an agreement where she could not even speak to her brother and sister or friends about what happened to her,” Manly said. “Under the terms of that agreement, she couldn’t even speak to a future fiancé without the threat of being sued.”

None of the legal documents reveal how much Maroney was paid in exchange for secrecy, but the Times reports that inside sources believe she received $1.25 million. She now aims to nullify the original settlement, thus continuing her mission to end silence about sexual abuse in the sports industry. 

Kristen Perrone is a Siena College Class of 2018 alumna. She studied English during her time at Siena.