Chilling new details of a US Olympic gymnast’s abuse at the hands of a team doctor have been revealed.
Gold medallist McKayla Maroney claims she was sexually assaulted from the age of 13 by Dr Larry Nassar.
In a letter to the judge, McKayla’s mother, Erin, told how her daughter was so ‘suicidal’ she thought she would take her own life.
She wrote: ‘This experience has shattered McKayla.
‘She has transformed from a bubbly, positive, loving, world class athlete into a young adult who was deeply distressed, at time suicidal. At times, I was unsure whether I would open her bedroom door and find her dead.’
Detailing exactly how Nassar violated her, Erin continued: ‘[Nassar] drugged her, made her lay nude on a treatment table, straddled her and digitally penetrated her while rubbing his erect penis against her. She was only 15-years-old. She said to me, “mom, I thought I was going to die”.’
The 21-year-old posted a statement on Twitter last month claiming she was abused for seven years, including the day before she won gold at London 2012.
McKayla added her voice to the legions of women coming forward about sex abuse in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, by using the hashtag #MeToo.
‘People should know that this is not just happening in Hollywood. This is happening everywhere,’ McKayla wrote.
‘Wherever there is a position of power, there seems to be potential for abuse. I had a dream to go to the Olympics and the things that I had to endure to get there were unnecessary and digusting.’
She said Dr Larry Nassar molested her from the age of 13 until until she left gymnastics last year.
McKayla claims the abuse happened at many high-profile competitions, including the London Olympic Games, where she won gold and silver medals.
Among the shocking allegations of abuse, McKayla claimed Nassar, who spent nearly 30 years as an osteopath with the USA Gymnastics team, first molested her when she was 13 at a National Team training camp in Texas.
She claims he told her she was receiving ‘medically necessary treatment’.
‘It seemed whenever and wherever this man could find the chance, I was “treated”,’ McKayla wrote.
Nassar is currently in prison in Michigan awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to sexual assault.
He is still awaiting trial on separate criminal sexual conduct charges in addition to being sued by over 125 women in civil court who claim he sexually assaulted them.
In June, witnesses testified against the disgraced doctor, claiming he molested girls while pretending to provide medical care and helping spinal alignment.
Several former athletes have accused Nassar of inserting un-gloved fingers into their bodies and fondling their breasts.
Sydney Olympics bronze medalist Jamie Dantzscher filed a lawsuit against Nassar last September as ‘Jane Doe’ but gave up her anonymity for an interview on US TV programm 60 Minutes earlier this year.
‘He would put his fingers inside of me and move my leg around,’ Dantzscher told the program. ‘He would tell me I was going to feel a pop and that that would put my hips back and help my back pain.
‘It happened all the way to the Olympics in Sydney, until I was 18.’
McKayla Maroney's statement in full
Everyone’s words over the past few days have been so inspiring to me. I know how hard it is to speak publicly about something so horrible and so personal, because it’s happened to me too.
People should know it’s not just happening in Hollywood. This is happening everywhere. Wherever there is a position of power, there seems to be potential for abuse. I had a dream to go to the Olympics, and the things that I had to endure to get there, were unnecessary, and disgusting.
I was molested by Dr. Larry Nassar, the team doctor for the US Women’s National Gymnastics Team, and Olympic Team. Dr. Nassar told me that I was receiving ‘medically necessary treatment that he had been performing on patients for over 30 years’.
It started when I was 13 years old, at one of my first National Team training camps in Texas, and it didn’t end until I left the sport. It seemed whenever and wherever this man could find the chance, I was ‘treated’.
It happened in London before my team and I won the gold medal, and It happened before I won my Silver.
For me, the scariest night of my life happened when I was 15 years old. I had flown all day and all night with the team to get to Tokyo.
He’d given me a sleeping pill for the flight, and the next thing I know, I was all alone with him in his hotel room getting a ‘treatment’. I thought I was going to die that night.
The Olympics are something that brings people hope, and joy. It inspires people to fight for their dreams, because anything is possible with hard work and dedication.
I remember watching the 2004 olympics. I was 8 years old, and I told myself that one day I would wear that red, white, and blue leotard, and compete for my country.
Sure, from the outside looking in, It’s an amazing story. I did it. I got there but not without a price.
Things have to change… but how do we begin? I’m no expert but here are my thoughts;
One: Speaking out, and bringing awareness to the abuse that is happening.
Two: People, Institutions, Organizations, especially those in positions of power, etc. need to be held accountable for their inappropriate actions and behavior.
Three: Educate, and prevent, no matter the cost.
Four: Have zero tolerance for abusers and those who protect them.
Is it possible to put an end to this type of abuse? Is it possible for survivors to speak out, without putting careers, and dreams in jeopardy? I hope so.
Our silence has given the wrong people power for too long, and it’s time to take our power back. And remember, it’s never too late to speak up.