Gymnast McKayla Maroney alleges forced silence in sexual abuse lawsuit

McKayla Maroney smiles after competing on the floor exercise during the U.S. women’s national gymnastics championships in Hartford, Conn., in August 2013. (AP file photo)

LOS ANGELES — Olympic gold medalist McKayla Maroney was forced to sign a confidential settlement with the group that trains U.S. Olympic gymnasts to keep allegations that she was sexually abused by team doctor Larry Nassar a secret, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday.

Maroney, who won a team gold and an individual silver on vault as part of the “Fierce Five” U.S. women’s team at the 2012 Olympics in London, said Nassar’s abuse started in her early teens and continued for the rest of her competitive career.

After suffering sexual abuse and “years of psychological trauma,” Maroney reached a settlement with USA Gymnastics in December 2016, but the terms of the agreement weren’t disclosed in court papers. Her lawsuit seeks to invalidate parts of the settlement, arguing it violated California law and that USA Gymnastics “had a plan to keep the sexual abuse of Nassar quiet.”

Maroney, who is now 22 years old, said in a Twitter post in October that the abuse started when she was 13 and attending a U.S. national team training camp in Houston. Nassar told her at the time that she was receiving “medically necessary treatment he had been performing on patients for over 30 years,” she said at the time.

Her attorney, John Manly, said she had been abused between 50 and 100 times by Nassar, including at the Olympics and during the world championships.

She has described Nassar giving her a sleeping pill while the team traveled to Japan for the 2011 world championships. Maroney says Nassar later visited her in her hotel room after the team arrived in Tokyo, where he molested her yet again.