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McKayla Maroney Says She Tried to Warn People About Larry Nassar in 2011

Abby Gardner
In a new interview, gymnast McKayla Maroney says she spoke out about Dr. Larry Nassar's abuse of her in 2011 but nothing was done to stop him.

On Sunday night, NBC's Dateline aired a follow-up special about the Larry Nassar abuse scandal that rocked the world of USA Gymnastics, and Olympic gold medalist McKayla Maroney—a member of the London 2012 "Fierce Five"—opened up about the years of abuse she suffered at the hands of the doctor, and how speaking out fell on deaf ears.

Maroney says the very first time Nassar examined her at age 13 (in a TV room at the famed Karolyi Ranch training facility), he behaved inappropriately. "He told me to get shorts on with no underwear. Basically, when that happened, I shut down...I wanted to go home," she says. "I felt very uncomfortable...I wanted my mom with me." She said that Nassar explained to her that putting his ungloved fingers inside her was a legitimate medical treatment for pain. "He said that nobody would understand this and the sacrifice it takes to get to the Olympics, so you can't tell anyone about this," she remembers. "I was like, 'That makes sense. I don't want to tell anybody about this.'" Like many of the other victims, she believed he was letting her in on on "Olympic secret." The abuse continued every single time she saw Nassar, Maroney says—hundreds of times.

She essentially says she suffered in silence until a car ride from a training session at the 2011 World Championships with other gymnasts and coach John Geddert. The night before, Maroney says her experience with Nassar was worse than ever: "I was bawling, naked, on a bed, him on top of me. I thought I was going to die." She goes on, "For the first time, to me, it was very very hard for me to not acknowledge the fact that this was not treatment, that I was being abused." And so in the car, she spoke out. "I even said out loud that Larry was fingering me. People gasped." (NBC confirmed with three others who were in the car, including Aly Raisman, that they remember the conversation.) Geddert said nothing and refused to comment for the story. He is currently under investigation in Michigan. "There were so many adults around us all the time. Nobody ever asked any questions," Raisman said, who was also interviewed for the Dateline segment. "Nobody ever said anything. We always thought that we were the problem." Maroney says after that, she decided to never speak about it again.

She is speaking out now "for the girls and for the future."

Nassar wasn't arrested until 2016 and there are still many unanswered questions, including some voiced by Raisman Sunday on Twitter after the special aired. "Hour prime time for investigative piece, no interview/scrutiny of current/recent execs of USAG, the org responsible for the sport & much of this mess! Why? I named someone currently in power at USAG that I reported Nassar to, it was omitted. Why? Still many unanswered questions."

USA Gymnastics issued a lengthy statement in response to the Dateline episode that said in part: "USA Gymnastics admires the courageous women who shared their deeply personal experiences about the impact Larry Nassar had on their lives. Their powerful voices and stories will continue to be a basis for our future decisions. USA Gymnastics is sorry that any athlete has been harmed during her or his gymnastics career, and we are committed to creating a culture that empowers and supports our athletes and focuses on our highest priority, which is the safety and well-being of our athletes. We hope everything we do going forward makes this very clear."

In February 2018, Nassar was sentenced to what will amount to multiple lifetimes in jail in two Michigan courtrooms, on top of a federal sentence for child pornography.