Update: In a statement, USA Gymnastics said that it “has not sought and will not seek any money from McKayla Maroney for her brave statements made in describing her victimization and abuse by Larry Nassar, nor for any victim impact statements she wants to make to Larry Nassar at this hearing or at any subsequent hearings related to his sentencing.” The organization added, “This has been her right and USA Gymnastics encourages McKayla and anyone who has been abused to speak out. USA Gymnastics remains focused on our highest priority – the safety, health and well-being of our athletes and creating a culture that empowers and supports them.”
The nondisclosure agreement McKayla Maroney signed with USA Gymnastics might cost her a $100,000 fine if she were to join the women detailing Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse at a sentencing hearing for the disgraced former team doctor that is underway this week. Chrissy Teigen, a model and TV personality who has appeared in Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue and on the covers of numerous magazines, said Tuesday that she would be “honored” to pay that penalty on behalf of the 2012 Olympic gold medalist.
Teigen posted to Twitter a headline from the Daily Mail that declared Maroney would be subject to that fine if she spoke at Nassar’s hearing, which began Tuesday. In December, Maroney filed a lawsuit against USA Gymnastics, alleging that it illegally sought to buy her silence as part of a $1.25 million settlement.
“The entire principle of this should be fought — an NDA to stay quiet about this serial monster with over 140 accusers, but I would be absolutely honored to pay this fine for you, McKayla,” Teigen said in her tweet.
Maroney responded appreciatively to Teigen’s offer, in a statement released through her lawyer, John Manly. “I’m not on social media right now, but I wish I was for this!” Maroney said. “I’m shocked by your generosity, and I just want you to know how much hope your words bring to all of us! I just can’t get over the fact that someone I don’t personally know is sticking up for me, let alone a strong women that I’ve looked up to for years!
“Thank you Chrissy, you’re so inspiring, and things are starting to change because of people like you! Just saying that was worth the decision to speak up regardless of a fine. You’re heart pure gold. God bless.”
It is unclear if Maroney would actually be ordered to pay the fine were she to speak at the hearing, which is taking place in Lansing, Mich., and is expected to involve dozens of women. Maroney, 22, may have have already violated the NDA in October, when she publicly accused Nassar of molesting her for a period that began when she was 13 and continued until she left the sport in 2016.
Attorneys for Nassar cited Maroney’s accusations as contributing to “inflammatory and sustained media coverage” in attempting to delay a trial in Ingham (Mich.) County, home to Michigan State, where he worked for two decades and which has also taken widespread criticism for not doing enough to heed victims’ complaints. However, that court saw him plead guilty in November to seven counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, and in a court in nearby Eaton County a week later, he admitted guilt to three more counts of abusing girls.
In December, Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in prison on federal charges related to child pornography, and last week, the Michigan attorney general’s office asked that the ex-doctor receive a sentence of 40 to 125 years for the state charges. The high end of that request was chosen to reflect the number of people who reported assaults by Nassar to Michigan State Police, and the total number of complaints against him, including from other Olympic gold medalists such as Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman, is more than 150.
Biles, who won four gold medals and a bronze at the 2016 Games, became the latest victim to step forward on Monday, when she posted extensive comments to Twitter. “It is not normal to receive any type of treatment from a trusted team physician and refer to it horrifyingly as the ‘special’ treatment. This behavior is completely unacceptable, disgusting, and abusive, especially coming from someone whom I was TOLD to trust,” Biles said.
“USA Gymnastics is absolutely heartbroken, sorry and angry that Simone Biles or any of our athletes have been harmed by the horrific acts of Larry Nassar,” the organization said in a statement (via CNN). “We are our athletes’ advocates. USA Gymnastics will continue to listen to our athletes and our members in our efforts of creating a culture of empowerment with a relentless focus on athlete safety every single day.”
Nassar’s sentencing hearing, which is set to last four days, began with a woman, Kyle Stephens, whose parents were friends with his family. Stephens told a judge that Nassar sexually abused her at his house when she was between 6 and 12, rubbing his genitals on her and digitally penetrating her, and that her parents initially did not believe her over his denials.
“I testified to let the world know that you are a repulsive liar and those ‘treatments’ were pathetically veiled sexual abuse,” Stephens said to Nassar, who reportedly looked away or bowed his head frequently as his accusers spoke. As many as 100 women are expected to address the court.
Raisman tweeted Monday that she will not speak at the hearing because it would be “too traumatic,” but she will have an “impact letter” read in court, with Nassar present. “I support the brave survivors,” she said. “We are all in this together.”
In reply to Teigen’s offer Tuesday to pay Maroney’s possible fine, TV producer Michael Schur said he would “split it” with the model. Actress Kristen Bell then chimed in, tweeting, “I’ll 1/3 it with you guys.”
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