For the first time since she revealed this past October that she was sexually assaulted by disgraced former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University physician Larry Nassar, 22-year-old former Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney spoke publicly about the assault she was forced to endure at the hands of the 54-year-old.
She did so on Tuesday during a luncheon for the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children at The Pierre hotel in New York, New York, and she also did an interview with TODAY's Savannah Guthrie.
A preview of that interview was released on Wednesday, and the full interview is set to air on an hourlong Dateline NBC special called "Silent No More" on Sunday, April 22 at 7:00 pm ET.
When Maroney revealed in October that she had been sexually assaulted by Nassar, she became the first of four members of the United States Olympic women's gymnastics team from the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England to do so.
Raisman and Wieber both delivered victim impact statements during Nassar's sentencing hearing in an Ingham County, Michigan courtroom in January, and Maroney had her statement read on her behalf.
That sentencing hearing resulted in Nassar being sentenced to between 40 and 175 years in state prison on seven sexual assault charges. This came after he was already sentenced to federal prison for 60 years this past December on three child pornography charges.
Nassar, who has been accused of sexually assaulting more than 260 people, many of whom female gymnasts, under the guise of medical treatment for a span of roughly two decades, is currently serving his 60-year federal prison sentence at United States Penitentiary Tucson in Tucson, Arizona.
He was also sentenced to between 40 and 125 more years in state prison on three more sexual assault charges in February.
But after Maroney publicly spoke about the sexual assault she was forced to endure at the hands of Nassar for the first time since accusing Nassar of sexual assault in October, she has unfortunately faced tons of criticism -- unwarranted criticism.
Here are some of the comments that have been posted on the preview video of the aforementioned interview that Maroney did. Keep in mind that these comments were written within only a few hours of the video being uploaded to YouTube.
"sure she was"
"And why let him do it? She like it?"
"When I was 6 my mother made me sit on santas lap & he kept trying to put his hand between my thighs, i dug my nails into his hand because I knew it wasn’t right...You chose to keep ur mouth shut in order to get medals. U KNEW it was wrong but U ALLOWED it to continue... for fame.....btw, ur plastic surgery is a mess!"
"I don't understand why she would have let herself be molested hundreds of times before speaking out. It doesn't make sense to me. I think she was molested by Nassar but I think she is exaggerating somewhat."
"This whole thing is a PSYOP. Even if this did happen she was a victim the first time after that she was an accomplice."
"You know what I get it when people say sometime it takes a while before people can come forward and speak about being abuse, molested or a life changing experience. But somewhere along the line people should be held accountable for incidents that happened so long ago. For example you here about people saying they was molested by a grown up thirty years after the experience. Now look how long Maroney has been away from the Olympics. Unless somebody had you strapped to a chair or you was living in a cave away from civilization. Go somewhere and shut up. Its people like you that ruined it for people that is victimized in real life, Turn your lips sideways on that (Creature)."
"Everybody deserves a second chance guys Larry Nassar just wants to practice the medicine that he loves that we all love"
"Notice all these girls he helped became champions. I find them to be very ungrateful."
"The problem I have with all this propped up alleged abuse cases are twofold. First many of these people making these claims waited years to come forward,and second they took the fame and money offered by their so called abusers. They could have had they been so offended by these alleged acts of abuse,forgone their fame and fortune and moved back to "small town", America. Seems to me those two facts are being covered up and ignored."
"Why did she keep going back to him if he kept molesting her?"
"Not watching the video because I don't like the anchors. But I came here to say, What if we live in a time where NOT speaking out could mean the end of your career, as in, McKayla was getting older and becoming irrelevant after her 15 minutes of fame? And she couldn't let go of the attention, so she literally had to accuse somebody of sexual harassment to say relevant. So if she didn't speak up, it wouldn't end her career, but let her slowly grow older and irrelevant. And if she did speak up, and make things up, it would keep her in the limelight at the expense of an innocent man's life."
Before it sounds like I am somewhat repeating myself, let me say that I did write a similar article about the unwarranted criticism that Aly Raisman faced after revealing that she was assaulted by Nassar in November and after she filed a lawsuit against USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic Committee in March.
She has since taken steps to sue Michigan State as well.
As you can see from above, the overwhelming majority of the comments made on this video previewing Maroney's interview are extremely negative toward the 22-year-old. What many of these people don't realize is the fact that Maroney isn't just speaking up now, and she certainly isn't doing it for attention. Oh, and yes, this sexual assault did, in fact, happen.
Maroney became the first high-profile gymnast to accuse Nassar of sexual assault when she did so in October, and she revealed in December that she did so despite the fact that USA Gymnastics forced her to enter a non-disclosure agreement and paid her $1.25 million to keep quiet.
You could make a case that she paved the way for other Olympic gymnasts such as Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Simone Biles and Jordyn Wieber to reveal that Nassar had sexually assaulted them as well.
This non-disclosure agreement that I referenced above was made right around the time Nassar was arrested in December of 2016, which means that Maroney theoretically must have spoken up about his assault long before that.
Why? As I discussed in another article, which I linked to two paragraphs above this one, USA Gymnastics forced her to enter the non-disclosure agreement because they did not want the scandal to get bigger than it already was.
After roughly two decades of Nassar's victims being ignored, Rachael Denhollander became the first person to publicly accuse him of sexual assault when she took her story to the Indianapolis Star in September of 2016.
As a result, this scandal started to appear in more and more headlines, and USA Gymnastics had to do everything they could to save face since Nassar was finally being exposed -- as were the enabling and cover-up of Nassar's predatory behavior by institutions such as USA Gymnastics and Michigan State.
USA Gymnastics thought that the best way to do that would be to pay McKayla Maroney to keep quiet about the sexual assault she was forced to endure at the hands of Nassar, again, meaning she must have spoken up about his assault long before she entered this non-disclosure agreement in December of 2016.
USA Gymnastics had no desire for this scandal to become even bigger news with a high-profile gymnast such as Maroney revealing that she had been sexually assaulted.
As we now know, that backfired, as not only did they pay Maroney $1.25 million to enter the agreement, but they also could not fine her for speaking out about Nassar's assault if they wanted to act like they truly cared about her and all of Nassar's other victims, which they repeatedly claimed that they did in a number of statements.
Think about it. The initial plan that USA Gymnastics had to save face backfired, as referenced above, so how could they fine her if they did not want to look even worse?
They couldn't, and they didn't.
With all of this information and all of these events that led up to Maroney speaking publicly about the sexual assault she was forced to endure at the hands of Nassar for the first time in mind, how anyone can say things such as that she is "just speaking up now" or wants to "stay relevant" is simply demonstrative of pure ignorance.
It is sad that we live in a society where people are so quick to either blame or discredit victims for sexual assault they were forced to endure, all while not saying a word condemning the actual sexual predator.
It is also sad that we live in a society where people do this despite the fact that they have little to no background information on the sensitive topic that they are attempting to discuss.
Maroney is a hero, especially since she took a risk by defying the terms of the non-disclosure agreement that she entered with USA Gymnastics and revealed both that Nassar had sexually assaulted her and that USA Gymnastics paid her to keep quiet about it.
The criticism she is now facing, and sadly will likely continue to face, is completely unwarranted, much like the criticism that Aly Raisman has faced and unfortunately continues to face.Published 19 Apr 2018, 15:20 IST