USA Gymnastics paid former Olympic medalist McKayla Maroney in December 2016 to not speak publicly about longtime team doctor Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse, according to a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Wednesday. The Wall Street Journal reported that the gymnast signed a confidential $1.25 million settlement agreement.
Maroney’s lawyer, John Manly, told ESPN that Maroney willingly entered the agreement, but that the agreement was signed at a time when the gymnast was traumatized by the news of Nassar’s widespread abuse of other women.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the agreement was signed by Maroney; her lawyer at the time, Gloria Allred; former president of USA Gymnastics Steve Penny; and a USA Gymnastics lawyer.
In November, Nassar pleaded guilty to 10 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct in two separate cases in Michigan, and is expected to face at least 25 years in prison when he is sentenced, which is scheduled for January. He has been accused of sexual abuse by more than 140 women, including Maroney’s 2012 Olympic teammates Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman. In July, Nassar pleaded guilty to federal child pornography charges in another case and was sentenced to 60 years in prison on December 7.
In letters submitted to the federal judge overseeing Nassar’s sentencing in the child pornography case, Maroney wrote that Nassar gave her a pill to help her sleep on a flight, and she awoke alone with Nassar in his hotel room. Her mother, Erin Maroney, wrote about the same incident.
“[Nassar] drugged her, made her lay nude on a treatment table, straddled her and digitally penetrated her while rubbing his erect penis against her,” Erin Maroney wrote. “She was only 15 years old. She said to me, ‘Mom I thought I was going to die.’”
ESPN reported that the lawsuit said Nassar continued to abuse Maroney on multiple occasions for almost five years.
“In addition to the sexual acts … Nassar would continuously, obsessively and compulsively photograph McKayla Maroney,” the lawsuit stated. “Maroney alleges that she believes photographs were taken of her while Nassar was sexually abusing her under the guise of treatment.”
Tuesday, the Lansing State Journal reported that Nassar was permitted to see patients at Michigan State University for 16 months while under investigation by the university’s police department after a 2014 sexual assault allegation.
Maroney violated the terms of the confidentiality agreement in October, when she tweeted about the abuse she said Nassar inflicted on her. In the post (which Maroney has since deleted), she said Nassar first molested her when she was 13 years old, and continued to do so until she left USA Gymnastics in 2016. Maroney added that Nassar had abused her during the 2012 London Olympics.
The Wall Street Journal also reported that the lawsuit filed on behalf of Maroney names USA Gymnastics as a defendant, and states that the nondisparagement and nondisclosure clauses in the settlement are illegal. Reportedly, breaking the agreement could result in fines of more than $100,000.
“[USA Gymnastics was] willing to engage in a systematic cover-up of the entire matter,” Manly told ESPN.
In 2015, USA Gymnastics conducted a five-week investigation into accusations against Nassar. The Wall Street Journal reported that the organization spoke to the FBI, which opened its own investigation in 2016. Shortly thereafter, the first of Nassar’s victims spoke publicly about their abuse.