Since Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney accused former Dr. Larry Nassar of sexual abuse six months ago, the gold medalist is making her first public comments about the "hundreds" of times she says he abused her and the “big secret” she was forced to keep.
In an interview to be aired in full Sunday on “Dateline,” Maroney told NBC’s Savannah Guthrie that she was just 13 when she first visited the ex-USA Gymnastics doctor for an exam.
“He told me that he was gonna do a checkup on me. That was the first day that I was abused,” said Maroney, now 22.
Nassar worked for USA Gymnastics treating young athletes for nearly three decades. Though the organization said it fired him in 2015 and alerted law enforcement "after learning of athlete concerns," Nassar continued to work as a physician at Michigan State University through September 2016 and then shortly after was indicted on sexual assault charges and arrested for having thousands of images of child pornography. He pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography, as well as seven counts of sexual abuse, and is now serving his first sentence in an Arizona prison.
Maroney was a member of the “Fierce Five” of American gymnasts who won the team gold medal at the 2012 Olympics in London. She also won the silver medal in the vault event, and a photo showing her on the podium looking disappointed sparked a “not impressed” meme.
The athlete is one of more than 200 people who has accused Nassar of abuse. She told Guthrie that he molested her “every time I saw him,” which she said was “hundreds” of times.
“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,” Maroney recalled. “He didn’t say it in a way that was mean or anything like that. I was actually like, that makes sense. I don’t want to tell anyone about this.”
Maroney and her fellow gymnasts have also taken USA Gymnastics, MSU and the U.S. Olympic Committee to task, claiming that they turned a blind eye to Nassar’s misconduct and share some of the blame for the abuse. Earlier this week, Maroney said that the organizations only care about “money and medals,” adding that it “didn’t seem they cared about anything else.”
All three groups have made changes to their top leadership positions in the wake of Nassar’s abuse scandal. And the Michigan attorney general launched an investigation into Nassar’s time at MSU.
Maroney said at the time her abuse felt like a “big secret,” but she is ready to speak out about it now.
“Doing what’s right is not always what’s easy, but I need to speak up for the girls and for the future,” she said.
Maroney’s full interview, “Silent No More,” airs on “Dateline” Sunday at 7 p.m.