McKayla Maroney appeared on Dateline NBC on Sunday to explain the culture of abuse that existed inside gymnastics. The retired U.S. Olympian drew the world’s attention to the abuse she — and other members of USA Gymnastics — suffered at the hands of former medical trainer Larry Nassar when she told her story as part of the “#MeToo” movement in October of 2017.
EXCLUSIVE: Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney says gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar molested her hundreds of times. @SavannahGuthrie has more, including an exclusive interview with Bela and Martha Karolyi, Sunday on #Dateline at 7/6c. pic.twitter.com/iqLv5kK3AC— Dateline NBC (@DatelineNBC) April 21, 2018
“He said that nobody would understand this and the sacrifice that it takes to get to the Olympics. So you can’t tell people this.”
Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in prison after pleading guilty to federal child pornography charges in 2017. He was then sentenced to up to 300 years in prison in Michigan courts in early 2018 after pleading guilty to 10 counts of criminal sexual misconduct. More than 200 women and girls stepped forward to accuse him of abuse committed throughout his 30-year career as a doctor for USA Gymnastics and at Michigan State University. A full timeline of how the case unfolded can be found here.
Maroney explains the methods Nassar used to make himself appear kind and trustworthy relative to other coaches and trainers. During her Dateline interview Maroney gives one example during the 2012 London Olympics where she was “starving,” because of limits put on food, which Nassar would provide her with.
EXCLUSIVE: Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney says she “would have starved” at the Olympics without team doctor Larry Nassar. @SavannahGuthrie has more, including an exclusive interview with Bela and Martha Karolyi, Sunday on #Dateline at 7/6c. pic.twitter.com/2FDoBy45H1— Dateline NBC (@DatelineNBC) April 21, 2018
Maroney said her worst experience with Nassar came at the World Championships in Tokyo in 2011.
“He went like overboard that night,” Maroney said. “I was bawling, naked, on a bed, him on top of me.
“I thought I was going to die.”
Maroney first detailed the abuse in an October tweet, which explained how Nassar sexually abused her under the guise of “necessary medical treatment.”
#MeToo pic.twitter.com/lYXaDTuOsS— mckayla (@McKaylaMaroney) October 18, 2017
In December, a lawsuit revealed that USA Gymnastics had paid Maroney to sign a non-disclosure agreement that prevented her from publicly discussing abuse. However, the agreement was not enforceable in the state of California, where NDA’s are not permitted in cases of child sexual abuse. A month later USA Gymnastics said it would not fine Maroney for breaching the agreement, and issued the following statement:
“The powerful voices of the athletes, like McKayla, who shared their experiences of abuse by Nassar impacted us all and will influence our decisions going forward. USA Gymnastics is committed to building a culture that empowers and supports our athletes and focuses on our highest priority, the safety and well-being of our athletes. We are doing everything possible to prevent abuse, and we hope everything we do going forward makes this very clear.”