At least one Olympic medalist is suing the USA Gymnastics team for covering up sexual abuse by a team doctor who has been convicted of sexually abusing dozens of women and girls on the team, NPR reports.
As the #MeToo movement took down the likes of Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and Matt Lauer – though, inexplicably, not President Donald Trump – Gold Medalist McKayla Maroney broke her silence to reveal that she was abused by team doctor Larry Nassar for years, starting when she was just 13 years old.
More than 100 women came forward to reveal that Nassar sexually abused them for years.
But Maroney isn’t satisfied with Nassar’s conviction. Now, she’s going after the Olympic team for covering up the abuse by paying her for her silence.
Maroney has filed a lawsuit against USA Gymnastics for failing to protect athletes from Nassar. She says the team made her sign a confidentiality agreement last December after dozens of women and girls came forward to reveal the abuse.
Her lawsuit accused USA Gymnastics of acting to “further conceal and shield from public scrutiny, outside investigation, and law enforcement, the true nature of NASSAR’s horrific sexual abuse of minors.”
According to The Los Angeles Times, Maroney was paid $1.25 million as part of the settlement.
Maroney says she agreed to the settlement “to obtain funds necessary to pay for lifesaving psychological treatment and care” after she was abused.
Her lawsuit seeks to void that deal as a “direct violation” of California law.
“A simple fact is this: If Michigan State University, USA Gymnastics and the US Olympic Committee had paid attention to any of the red flags in Larry Nassar’s behavior, I never would have met him, I never would have been ‘treated’ by him and I never would have been abused by him,” Maroney said in a statement Wednesday.
According to NBC News, after USA Gymnastics “quietly fired” Nassar in June 2015 after a number of complaints, he was allowed to continue to “treat, and allegedly abuse, patients at his Michigan State University sports medicine practice.”
Maroney’s lawsuit is a major move in the growing #MeToo movement. Over the last three months, powerful men like Weinstein, Lauer, Charlie Rose, and Mario Batali in entertainment, and the likes of Al Franken, John Conyers, Blake Farenthold, Trent Franks, and Roy Moore in politics.
But Maroney is taking aim directly at the system that allowed the behavior to persist, much like the women who have sued Fox News for allowing a pervasive culture of sexual harassment.
The future of the lawsuit may be important given that there is one accused serial sexual predator who is currently and publicly being protected by the system: President Donald Trump.
Trump has been accused of sexual assault, misconduct, or harassment by 19 women and was caught on tape bragging about sexually assaulting women. Yet despite mounting calls for his resignation, or at least an investigation, House Speaker Paul Ryan and other Republicans have dismissed the allegations and claim that they were litigated during the election.
It’s unclear what recourse Trump’s numerous accusers have given that the statute of limitations on the criminal end of things has passed. But the inevitable next step after bringing down powerful abusers from their high perches is going after the system that allowed them to remain in power despite their shameful histories. Right now, Paul Ryan and the Congress are complicit in keeping an accused sexual predator in the nation’s highest perch.