‘Emotional abyss’

Olympic gold medalist McKayla Maroney sues USA Gymnastics for alleged cover up of team doctor’s abuse

US gymnast McKayla Maroney (JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images)

Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney has filed a lawsuit against USA Gymnastics, alleging that the organization tried to cover up the sexual abuse suffered by her and others at the hands of Dr. Larry Nassar. Allegations of abuse by Nassar did not surface until August 2016 — more than a year after he was fired by USA Gymnastics in June 2015 following complaints from their athletes. Nassar allegedly went on to abuse patients at Michigan State University before an Indianapolis Star investigation revealed that two women had accused him of sexually assaulting them during an invasive pelvic therapy. Since then, more than 140 girls and women have alleged abuse by Nassar — including gold medalist Olympians Maroney, Aly Raisman, and Gabby Douglas. Both Maroney and Raisman have said that they suffered abuse by Nassar that began when they were young teenagers.

In the lawsuit, Maroney alleges that USA Gymnastics coerced her into signing an illegal non-disclosure agreement in return for a financial settlement that she needed to pay for psychological treatment. The lawsuit claims that USA Gymnastics’ insistence on her signing the confidentiality agreement, which forbade her from speaking to her friends or even family about what she endured, was motivated by the organization’s desire to “further conceal and shield from public scrutiny, outside investigation, and law enforcement, the true nature of Nassar’s horrific sexual abuse of minors.”

Maroney is also seeking damages for the psychological trauma she suffered and continues to suffer. According to Maroney’s mother, her daughter remains in an “emotional abyss” of anxiety and depression. Maroney has also said that she believes that Nassar took photos of her while he was “sexually abusing her under the guise of treatment,” and that the doctor shared the photos with other pedophiles. The lawsuit states that continued anxiety over how widely the photos have been shared — or whether “they will eventually surface later in her lifetime” — continues to be a constant source of “distress” for Maroney.

Maroney chose to break the non-disclosure agreement herself in October, when she went public about what had happened to her. USA Gymnastics, meanwhile, has argued that the non-disclosure agreement was not illegal. Nassar has pleaded guilty to molesting 10 girls and possessing child pornography, and was sentenced this month to 60 years in prison on the child pornography charges. He is still awaiting sentencing for his alleged abuse.

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Read the full story at NBC News.

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