USA Gymnastics won't seek fine if McKayla Maroney discusses abuse
USA Gymnastics says it will not seek payment or retribution from McKayla Maroney if the three-time Olympic gold-medal winner decides to speak publicly against Larry Nassar.
Maroney is not expected to speak during the four-day sentencing hearing for Nassar, the former national medical coordinator for USA Gymnastics. Nassar has pleaded guilty to 10 total counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct as part of a plea deal. The hearing for seven of those counts started Tuesday, and prosecutors expect 98 women to speak or submit written statements this week.
Maroney filed a lawsuit last month claiming that USA Gymnastics forced her to sign a confidentiality agreement in 2016 to keep her allegations against Nassar a secret.
"USA Gymnastics has not sought and will not seek any money from McKayla Maroney for her brave statements made in describing her victimization and abuse by Larry Nassar, nor for any victim impact statements she wants to make to Larry Nassar at this hearing or at any subsequent hearings related to his sentencing," the organization said Tuesday night in a statement.
"This has been her right and USA Gymnastics encourages McKayla and anyone who has been abused to speak out. USA Gymnastics remains focused on our highest priority -- the safety, health and well-being of our athletes and creating a culture that empowers and supports them."
The Wall Street Journal reported that Maroney was paid $1.25 million to sign the confidentiality agreement. As part of the agreement, Maroney reportedly faced a $100,000 fine if she spoke about her alleged abuse. Maroney already has said on Twitter that she was abused by Nassar as early as age 13.
Maroney's attorney, John Manly, said USA Gymnastics continues to misrepresent her.
"They say McKayla has 'always had the right to speak.' Not true," Manly said in a statement. "Under the [agreement's] terms she could not speak in court unless subpoenaed. She could not even have her statement read without fear of a lawsuit against her by USAG. A victim impact statement is a voluntary act. It's not a subpoena.
"Let's be clear. The only reason this statement was issued is because people were outraged at USAG's behavior toward Ms. Maroney and her family. So outraged that people were kindly offering to pay the six figure USAG penalty so McKayla could speak. Everyday Americans get that no one should be silenced about child molestation. This is especially true when the abused is a young athlete who competed in the Olympic Games for our Country and brought honor and dignity to our nation. It is truly sad that USA Gymnastics and the USOC didn't and don't get it. They have no choice to relent because the cleansing sunlight of truth is shining upon them and they can no longer hide their misdeeds."
Model Chrissy Teigen offered to pay the fine Tuesday, saying in a tweet that she "would be absolutely honored to pay this fine for you, McKayla."
Nassar, 54, was a renowned physician at Michigan State's sports clinic. He has already been sentenced to 60 years in federal prison on child pornography charges, and the prosecuting attorneys have asked for another sentence of 40 to 125 years for his sexual abuse.
Michigan State president Lou Anna K. Simon was among those in attendance as court proceedings continued Wednesday. The top official of the school that employed Nassar for 20 years said "it seemed important" to hear the victims, but that she did not want to be a distraction on the hearings' first day.
"I understand where they are coming from and I understand the emotion," Simon said of victims who have expressed anger toward the MSU administration. "But there will be a time to discuss those facts."