In October, gymnastics champion McKayla Maroney shared a disturbing account of sexual abuse at the hands of now-disgraced doctor, Larry Nassar. Ahead of Nassar’s sentencing on Thursday, McKayla and her mother, Erin — along with several other women — gave victim impact statements to the judge recounting the chilling details of Nassar’s assaults. For McKayla, the abuse lasted for six years.
“This experience has shattered McKayla,” Erin Maroney wrote of her daughter in a letter to the court obtained by ESPN. “She has transformed from a bubbly, positive, loving, world-class athlete into a young adult who was deeply distressed, at time suicidal. At times, I was unsure whether I would open her bedroom door and find her dead.”
The mother also discussed how despite courtroom justice, there was no guarantee her daughter was safe from the damage caused by Nassar. Last year, it was discovered that discarded hard drives found in Nassar’s trash can contained nearly 37,000 images and videos of child pornography.
"Were McKayla's images on there? Were his other victims? Did he trade those images with other pedophiles?” she wrote. “Are those images on the dark web today? These are questions that keep my husband and I up at night. I know this also haunts my daughter. Will she wake up one day to find an image of her 13-year-old self being assaulted on the internet? This is what our family must live with and it will never go away."
More than 140 individuals have come forward with stories of sexual assault from Nassar and complaints about Nassar’s lurid behavior can be traced back for decades. Sadly, these complaints were often dismissed.
Erin Maroney also discussed how easy it was for Nassar to abuse her daughter — and countless other young women — due to the parental restrictions in place at various training centers. For example, parents were not allowed to travel abroad or even stay at the same hotels as their kids.
"My husband once questioned the propriety of the isolation of the girls during international travel, Erin Maroney wrote. “He was assured by Steve Penny that the girls were safe at all times. 'More safe than the President of the USA,' he said to him. We now know that this was a lie."
In March, Penny resigned as president of USA Gymnastics amid the sexual assault allegations.
The former USA Gymnastics doctor was sentenced to a maximum of 60 years in prison this week.
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