Inspired by the #MeToo movement and the courage of the people coming forward in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault allegations, Olympic gold medalist McKayla Maroney published a letter on social media early Wednesday morning saying that she was sexually abused by US Women’s National Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar for several years, beginning when she was 13.
“For me the scariest night of my life happened when I was 15 years old,” Maroney, now 21, wrote. “I had flown all day and night with the team to get to Tokyo. 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.”
Nassar pleaded guilty in July to federal child pornography charges stemming from a 2016 investigation into the sexual abuse of patients. He could face more than 25 years in jail.
Maroney says she wrote her letter to raise awareness that abuse can be perpetrated by powerful people in institutions everywhere, not just in Hollywood, and that silence about the topic benefits abusers.
“Is it possible for survivors to speak out without putting careers and dreams in jeopardy? I hope so,” she wrote. “Our silence has given the wrong people power for too long, and it’s time to take our power back.”
Here’s Maroney’s full letter: