06:21 GMT02 December 2020
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    Inspired by the #MeToo campaign, 21-year-old McKayla Maroney took to Twitter early Wednesday morning to reveal that she too was a victim of sexual abuse, starting when she was 13 years old.

    Maroney's abuser was none other than Larry Nassar, a former team doctor for USA Gymnastics, who plead guilty to federal child pornography charges in July and is currently awaiting sentencing in a Michigan jail.

    ​According to the medalist, Nassar was abusing her under the guise of conducting "medically necessary treatment that he had been performing on patients for over 30 years."

    "It seemed whenever and wherever this man could find the chance, I was ‘treated,'" the now-retired gold medalist said in a statement. "It happened in London before my team and I won the gold medal, and it happened before I won my silver."

    The worst of all incidents happened during the 2011 world championships in Tokyo, when she was just 15.

    "For me, the scariest night of my life happened when I was 15 years old. I had flown all day and night with the team to get to Tokyo," Maroney said. "He'd given me a sleeping pill for the flight, and the next thing I know, I was all alone with him in his hotel room getting a ‘treatment.'"

    "I thought I was going to die that night."

    Though the athlete-turned-musician was inspired by the #MeToo campaign, reportedly launched a decade ago by activist Tarana Burke and revitalized Sunday by actress Alyssa Milano, to share her story of abuse, Maroney pointed out that sexual harassment and assault wasn't just prevalent in the movie industry — it's everywhere.

    "People should know it's not just happening in Hollywood. This is happening everywhere. Wherever there is a position of power, there seems to be potential for abuse," Maroney said. "I had a dream to go to the Olympics, and the things that I had to endure to get there were unnecessary and disgusting."

    "Our silence has given the wrong people power for too long, and it's time to take our power back," the statement continued. "And remember, it's never too late to speak up."

    Responding to Maroney's statement, USA Gymnastics released their own in which they applauded the athlete for speaking out.

    "USA Gymnastics admires the courage of those, like McKayla Maroney, who have come forward to share their personal experiences with sexual abuse. Because of their strength in coming forward, predators can be held for their actions," the organization said Wednesday. "We, like so many others, are outraged and disgusted by the conduct of which Larry Nassar is accused."

    "We are sorry that any athlete has been harmed during her or his gymnastics career."

    Employed by USA Gymnastics from 1996 to 2015, the sporting organization fired Nassar in the summer of 2015 after receiving complaints. The abuse, however, did not become public until two former gymnasts told The Indianapolis Star they'd been abused by the doctor in the 1990s and 2000s, USA Today reported.

    According to the outlet, more than 140 women have claimed they were either molested or sexually assaulted by Nassar during his so-called medical treatments.

    The 53-year-old doctor will go on trial in December for three criminal cases, to which he has plead not guilty, on abuse allegations from nine gymnasts, the Examiner reported.

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    Tags:
    gymnastics, gymnast, sexual abuse, McKayla Maroney
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