'Monster doc abused my trust, my body'

Prosecutor Angela Povilaitis reading a statement for gymnast McKayla Maroney on Thursday during a sentencing hearing for Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics doctor who pleaded guilty in November last year to sexual assault charges.
Prosecutor Angela Povilaitis reading a statement for gymnast McKayla Maroney on Thursday during a sentencing hearing for Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics doctor who pleaded guilty in November last year to sexual assault charges.PHOTO: REUTERS

Maroney describes ordeal, as report claims college officials long knew of Nassar's abuse

CHICAGO • Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney on Thursday told of the "scars" left by alleged sexual abuse by the former national team doctor Larry Nassar, as a report claimed officials at an American university long knew he was suspected of misconduct.

More than 100 victims have accused the ex-USA Gymnastics doctor of sexual assault and dozens have delivered harrowing testimony since Tuesday, as a Michigan state judge weighs what Nassar's sentence should be.

In a written statement read in court by a prosecutor, Maroney said: "Dr Nassar was not a doctor. He in fact is, was, and forever shall be a child molester, and a monster of a human being. End of story.

"It seemed whenever and wherever this man could find the chance, I was 'treated'," she said, recalling the worst of the abuse that happened during a Tokyo trip. Nassar gave her a sleeping pill and she awoke to find him molesting her. She was 15.

"I thought I was going to die that night," Maroney, 22, said.

"He abused my trust. He abused my body. And left scars on my psyche that may never go away.

"Because national team training camps did not allow parents to be present, my mum and dad were unable to observe what Nassar was doing. And this has imposed a terrible and undeserved burden of guilt on my loving family."

TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCE

I thought I was going to die that night. He abused my trust. He abused my body. And left scars on my psyche that may never go away.

MCKAYLA MARONEY, US Olympic gymnast, on what happened in Tokyo after jailed doctor Larry Nassar gave her a sleeping pill.

Nassar, 54, has pleaded guilty to 10 counts of criminal sexual conduct and could face life in prison. His sentence could be handed down as early as yesterday (today, Singapore time).

He already faces 60 years in prison after being convicted of child pornography charges.

His accusers include four members of the star team that won Olympic gold at the 2016 Rio Games - Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas and Maroney.

Nassar's case forced the resignation last year of USA Gymnastics chief Steve Penny, who was accused of failing to quickly notify authorities about abuse allegations.

Under mounting pressure, USA Gymnastics announced on Thursday it will cut ties with the Karolyi Ranch, a long-time training centre for elite athletes in Huntsville, Texas - where Biles says she was abused by Nassar.

"We are exploring alternative sites to host training activities and camps until a permanent location is determined," new president Kerry Perry said in a statement.

As the testimony unfolded, The Detroit News reported on Thursday that at least 14 officials at Michigan State University (MSU), which employed Nassar, had been informed of sexual abuse allegations as early as 1997. They include MSU president Lou Anna Simon, who was informed in 2014, as well as athletics trainers, assistant coaches, a university police detective and others, according to the newspaper.

The university fired Nassar in September 2016, after allegations of abuse became public.

MSU's student newspaper on Thursday called for more accountability.

"President Lou Anna K. Simon, we now speak directly to you. Whether or not you admit guilt... you need to do the right thing," said an editorial by The State News, calling for her resignation.

"Now, to those who hide behind Simon, every one of you is just as guilty as Nassar."

The university did not return a request for comment.

In a statement published on its website, spokesman Jason Cody said, "any suggestion that the university covered up Nassar's horrific conduct is simply false".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 20, 2018, with the headline ''Monster doc abused my trust, my body''. Print Edition | Subscribe