Maroney files lawsuit after deal for abuse silence: reports


Los Angeles (AFP)

US gymnast McKayla Maroney filed suit against the US Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics on Wednesday, amid reports officials paid her to remain silent about sexual abuse by former team doctor Larry Nassar.

Maroney, a two-time world champion vaulter, helped the Americans win team golds in the 2012 Olympics and 2011 world championships. She was the 2012 Olympic vaulting runner-up.

Maroney signed a settlement deal with USA Gymnastics in December 2016 to resolve claims related to years of sexual abuse by Nassar, the existence of which was revealed in the lawsuit filed at Los Angeles Superior Court, according to the Wall Street Journal, ESPN and Los Angeles Times.

"They were willing to engage in a systemic cover-up of the entire matter," attorney John Manley told ESPN.

The Journal and Times reported the amount of the settlement agreement was $1.25 million.

Manley said Maroney made the deal at a time when she was traumatized by the news Nassar had sexually abused dozens of other gymnasts under what he called medical treatment.

"I want people to understand this kid had no choice -- she couldn't function, she couldn't work," Manly told ESPN.

USA Gymnastics "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," Manly said.

Maroney says USA Gymnastics "coerced" her into signing the deal because she was "in need of funds to pay for psychological treatment for her worsening psychological condition."

Nassar, who treated US gymnasts at four Olympics, pleaded guilty last month in Michigan to a total of 10 counts of criminal sexual conduct. Sentencing for seven of those counts is set for January 16.

Maroney, according to ESPN, provided a statement to the court despite not being among those Nassar was charged with abusing, saying he "abused my trust, abused by body and he left scars on my psyche that may never go away. He needs to be behind bars so he will never prey upon another child."

ESPN reported Erin Maroney, the gymnast's mother, submitted her own letter to the court, saying: "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."

In all, Nassar is accused in civil lawsuits of sexually abusing more than 140 women during medical exams.

Maroney could be open to a countersuit and $100,000 in penalties for speaking of the abuse and the settlement, but Manly contends the settlement deal was illegal under California law.