Maroney's plea in 2011 after Nassar abuse ignored

WASHINGTON • In a shocking disclosure to NBC News programme Dateline on Sunday, Olympic gold medallist McKayla Maroney said she tried to raise the alarm over sexual abuse by Larry Nassar five years before his arrest but nobody listened.

Her revelation came as she was riding in a car that was headed back to a hotel with then USA team coach John Geddert and others in 2011.

"I even said out loud that, 'Last night, Larry was fingering me'," she said, referring to the team's then physician.

At least 265 female athletes - including several Olympic gold medallists like Aly Raisman and Jordyn Wieber - have claimed Nassar abused them over a period of two decades in the biggest scandal in US Olympic history.

An American court in January sentenced the 54-year-old to up to 175 years in prison for his crimes.

Raisman told Dateline she was there and remembers Maroney's plea, but Geddert "just said nothing". "So that's why we just... we always thought that we were the problem," added the 23-year-old.

Maroney added she was abused "hundreds" of times by Nassar, but that cry for help came just after her worst incident, which happened in Tokyo when she was 15.

"He went, like, overboard that night. I was bawling, naked, on a bed. Him on top of me. And I thought I was gonna die," she said.

In February, Raisman, without naming Maroney, told CNN that Geddert had simply ignored an incident in which "one of my team-mates described in graphic detail what Nassar had done to her".

Geddert announced his retirement in January following his suspension by USA Gymnastics.

Two other former US Olympic gymnastics coaches, Bela and Marta Karolyi, whose training ranch - which is now closed - became the centre of the sex abuse scandal, told Dateline they never knew Nassar was preying on the girls they were training.

"I feel extremely bad. I don't feel responsible, but I feel hurt this thing happened," Marta said.

Bela also hit out at Nassar, saying he had been another victim.

"This miserable man destroyed everything I was working for... My facilities, my dreams, my health," he added.

The Karolyis are co-defendants in several civil lawsuits filed against Nassar and USA Gymnastics.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 24, 2018, with the headline 'Maroney's plea in 2011 after Nassar abuse ignored'. Print Edition | Subscribe