Olympic gymnast demands justice against doctor: 'He abused my body'

Friday, January 19, 2018
Olympic gymnast demands justice against doctor: 'He abused my body'
McKayla Maroney at the Senior Women Competition at the USA Gymnastics' National Championships in Hartford, Conn., Aug. 17, 2013.

She was not present in the courtroom but Olympic gymnastics star McKayla Maroney's words rang powerful and clear to the former doctor she called a "monster human being" and described how he repeatedly molested her from the age of 13 until she left the sport she loved.

Maroney,22, a multiple Olympic gold medalist and member of the famed "Fierce Five" at the 2012 London Olympic games, allowed her victim impact statement to be read Thursday morning by Michigan Assistant Attorney General Angela Povilaitis in Ingram County Circuit Court in Lansing, Michigan, where former USA Olympic team doctor Larry Nassar is facing punishment for molesting multiple young girls and women.

"I was told to trust him, that he would treat my injuries and make it possible for me to achieve my Olympic dreams," she said of Nassar.

"Dr. Nassar told me that I was receiving 'medically necessary treatment' that he had been performing on patients for over 30 years," Maroney said in her statement. "As it turned out, much to my demise, Dr. Nassar was not a doctor and, in fact, was and forever shall be a child molester, a monster human being. End of story."

Maroney was allowed to submit a statement just days after a gag order imposed on her, stemming from a confidentiality agreement she signed as part of $1.25 million settlement with USA Gymnastics over the abuse she suffered, was lifted. On Monday, USA Gymnastic said Maroney was free to speak.

She said Nassar began abusing her while she was attending her first National Team training camp in Texas.

"He abused my trust. He abused my body and he left scars on my psyche that may never go away," Maroney said.

She said Nassar sexually abused her repeatedly for years until she left the sport.

"It seemed whenever and wherever this man could find the chance, I was 'treated,'" she said. "It happened in London before my team won the gold medal and it happened before I won my silver medal."

She recalled being summoned to Nassar's hotel room one night for treatment.

"I thought I was going to die that night," she said. "Because the National Team training camp did not allow parents to be present, my mom and dad were unable to observe what Nassar was doing, and this has imposed a terrible and undeserved burden of guilt on my whole family."

She asked Judge Rosemarie Aquilina to give Nassar the maximum sentence, which could be up to 120 years in prison.

"Larry Nassar deserves to spend the rest of his life in prison, not only because of what he did to me, my teammates and so many other little girls," Maroney said. "He needs to be behind bars so he will never prey upon another child."

Nassar pleaded guilty in November to sexually assaulting seven girls, but Aquilina is allowing many more victims to speak in court. At least 105 are expected to address the court before the four-day hearing is over on Friday, but Aquilina said she was open to extending the hearing to all every victim to speak.

The disgraced doctor has already been sentenced to 60 years in prison after pleading guilty to federal child pornography charges. He has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 100 women and girls in civil lawsuits.

Olympic medalists Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Jamie Dantzscher and Simone Biles have all said they've been molested by Nassar.

"I had a dream to go to the Olympics and the things I had to endure to get there were unnecessary and disgusting," Maroney wrote in her statement. "I feel deeply saddened by the stories of my fellow teammates who suffered as I did at the hands of Larry Nassar."

She blasted Michigan State University, where Nassar was employed as a sports medicine doctor for years, the USA Gymnastics Association and the US Olympic Committee for turning a blind eye to numerous complaints over Nassar's behavior.

"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, I never would have been abused by him," Maroney wrote.

Dantzscher, 35, appeared at the court hearing Thursday to address Nassar face-to-face. Dantzscher, a member of the bronze-winning USA Olympic Gymnastics team at the 2000 games in Sydney, Australia, was one of the first victims to publicly disclose Nassar's abuse.

"When I came forward in August 2016, I was attacked on social media," Dantzscher said. "People did not believe me. They believed him. People didn't believe me, even those I thought were my friends. They called me a liar, a whore and even accused me of making all of this up to get attention."

Speaking directly to Nassar, Dantzscher said, "Well, who do they believe now, Larry?"

She said Nassar initially pretended to be her friend, slipping her candy when her coaches had placed her on a restricted diet.

"You manipulated me into thinking you were the good guy and helping me while sexually abusing me over and over and over for your twisted sexual pleasure," Dantzscher said.

Aquilina began Thursday's hearing by reading out loud a six-page letter Nassar had sent her. He told her he was not mentally capable of listening to his victims speak and blamed her for turning the hearing into a "media circus."

"She wants me to sit in the witness box next to her for all four days, so the media cameras will be directed toward her," Nassar wrote in his letter.

The judge told Nassar, "I don't need any cameras. I don't have a dog in this fight sir. I didn't orchestrate this. You did by your actions and by your plea of guilty."

She went on, "You may find it harsh that you are here listening, but nothing is as harsh as what your victims endured, the thousands of hours at your hands, collectively. You spent thousands of hours perpetrating criminal sexual misconduct on minors. Spending four or five days listening to them is significantly minor considering the hours of pleasure you had at their expense and ruining their lives."

She made Nassar stay put in the courtroom as yet another victim, Lindsey Lemke, a 22-year-old student at Michigan State University, spoke, a day after her mother addressed the court on her behalf.

"Today, I am speaking to you as my 10-year-old self on behalf of her. So I hope that is who you picture standing up here, looking at you right now," Lemke told Nassar. "Larry, I hope you ... are scared because you have pissed off the wrong army of women."

Her statement prompted rousing applause from those sitting in the courtroom gallery.

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