Comments about retired Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney made by hotel executive Suraj Patel, a 34-year-old New York Democrat who is attempting to unseat the party's incumbent, Democratic Representative Carolyn Maloney, have recently surfaced, and they do not paint a pretty picture.
Patel's views on his social media accounts would seem to indicate that he has an unmatched respect for women. These views, however, have been called into question as a result of the fact that these "creepy" comments about the former gymnast have recently surfaced.
In August of 2012, Patel posted a picture of himself and Maroney, who was just 16 years old at the time and had just competed in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. She won the silver medal for her performance in the vault in addition to the gold medal she won as one of the five members of the USA women's gymnastics team.
The picture Patel posted contains Patel and Maroney side by side, and the picture's headline is as follows, according to New York Post:
"We went to TopShop. I bought a promise ring. Then they tried to arrest me..."
Patel then joked about it on Facebook with a girlfriend. He stated the following:
“I told her she should come to New York because we have a top shop there on Broadway, haha, that may have crossed the creepy line by a little."
He added the following remarks:
“If this happens with McKayla Maroney...you can’t fault me, you know?...Sorry...you knew the deal.”
Patel's friend responded by saying what everyone else was thinking:
"She's only 16!"
Patel proceeded to post a link to an article featuring images of Maroney, and he stated the following:
"I love this one because this is how I feel...She's so jacked, btw"
Even more alarming is the fact that these types of comments are not new territory for Patel, who joked about rumors regarding actor John Stamos being involved with a 17-year-old girl by saying the following:
“Dude, she was 17 — that’s not that bad. Have mercy!”
By and large, these comments about Maroney have surfaced at quiet an interesting time on a couple of fronts. First of all, Lis Smith, who is Patel's campaign spokeswoman, stated that the surfacing of these comments at this particular time is essentially just an attempt to undermine his campaign. Here are her comments, according to Fox News.
“He’s an outspoken supporter of the national dialogue we are having about sexual abuse and harassment. These efforts to tie years-old comments to it do a great disservice to women. Dredging up one-off old social media posts is a typical establishment politician’s way to discredit newcomers.”
Secondly, Maroney, now 22, was one of more than 260 people, of whom several have also been Olympic gymnasts, who recently accused disgraced former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar of sexual assault.
In fact, Maroney was actually paid $1.25 million by USA Gymnastics to keep quiet about the assault before she ended up publicly coming forward with her allegations against Nassar this past October.
Nassar, 54, is currently serving a 60-year sentence at United States Penitentiary Tucson, a maximum-security federal prison in Tucson, Arizona, as a result of three child pornography charges. He was sentenced to 60 years in federal prison on these charges back in December.
He has since been sentenced to between 40 and 175 years in state prison in January on seven sexual assault charges and between 40 and 125 additional years in state prison last month on three more sexual assault charges.
In the sentencing hearing that took place in January in Ingham County, Michigan during which Nassar was sentenced to between 40 and 175 in state prison, a total of 169 victim impact statements were read.
Many of these statements were read by the women and girls who were abused by Nassar themselves. Maroney, however, was not there to read her statement. Instead, it was read for her. Here is a full video of her statement being read.
It will be interesting to see whether or not Maroney has anything to say about Patel's comments and whether or not these comments affect Patel's chances of unseating Maloney for the New York Congressional seat when that election is held at the end of June.