Amid the trending #MeToo social media hashtag which some women are using to come out as sexual abuse and harassment victims, gymnast McKayla Maroney revealed she was molested for years while competing for Team U.S.A.
The Olympic gold medalist wrote in a statement posted to her official Twitter early Wednesday morning that she, too, was sexually assaulted. She accused Dr. Larry Nassar, who once worked as the team doctor for the U.S. Women’s National Gymnastics and Olympic teams, of committing the acts for years.
According to Maroney, Nassar told her when she was 13-years old that she needed to receive “medically-necessary treatment that (Nassar) had been performing on patients for over 30 years.” She said Nassar molested her at various times, and it started when she attended a Team USA training camp in Texas, adding that “it didn’t end until (she) left the sport.”
“It happened in London before my team and I won the gold medal, and it happened before I won my silver,” she wrote in reference to the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Maroney says that the scariest night of her life so far came when she was just 15. It happened after a long flight with her teammates to Tokyo. She said that Nassar had given her a sleeping pill when she suddenly awoke in his hotel room getting one of his “treatments.”
“I thought I was going to die that night,” she wrote.
Maroney concluded her story by lauding women for coming forward with their stories of being sexually harassed an abused. She said she came forward to help break the silence and bring awareness that the issue isn’t contained in one industry.
“Our silence has given the wrong people power for too long, and it’s time to take our power back,” she wrote. “And remember, it’s never too late to speak up.”
Read Maroney’s full, emotional statement below:
Nassar, who was also a doctor at Michigan State University, is currently awaiting sentencing after he pleaded guilty to child pornography charges in July. He had been in police custody since December 2016 and is facing between 22 and 27 years in prison. He’ll be sentenced by Judge Jaet Neff at 11 a.m. November 27 in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids.
Nassar told investigators that he obtained thousands of images and videos of child pornography over a 13-year span and paid a third party to delete all the material on his computer in an effort to evade them. In exchange for his guilty plea, prosecutors dropped an investigation into an incident inside his swimming pool involving two minors. They also agreed to drop an investigation into sexual abuse that occurred while the gymnastics doctor between 2006-2012. It hasn’t been disclosed if Maroney was one of the victims in those investigations, but more than 150 women had come forward with some type of allegation against him, police said.
Nassar served as the team doctor and medical director for USA Gymnastics for many years and served in the positions while Maroney saw her greatest career success on Team USA. She was a member of the gymnastics team dubbed the “Fierce Five” during the 2012 Summer Olympics and won a gold medal in the team and a silver medal in the vault.
After not competing for three years, Maroney announced in 2016 that she was stepping away from gymnastics because of health concerns.
“I don’t want anybody to think that McKayla is retiring,” she told USA Today. “I don’t even want people to use that word. I got into gymnastics when I was 18 months old … and this is something I’m always going to be a part of it. I’m never leaving this sport. The only difference is I’m not competing anymore.”
Throughout the past week, in response to dozens of allegations of sexual misconduct being made against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, women across the globe are sharing their heartbreaking stories of sexual abuse and harassment by using the accompanying #MeToo hashtag on social media.