Appalling reaction to sex abuse revelation
MCKAYLA Maroney recalled being "naked on a bed" while Larry Nassar was laying on top of her and molesting her inside a hotel room in 2011 - an incident the gymnast said she reported to her coach and teammates.
The Olympic gold medallist, who retired from gymnastics in 2016, told US TV network NBC's Dateline she thought she "was going to die" when she was being sexually abused in a Tokyo hotel room in October 2011.
"That was the scariest night," Maroney, 22, said in the interview. "He went, like, overboard that night."
Maroney - who said Nassar abused her "hundreds" of times - recalled initially being in the hotel room with teammates Aly Raisman, Jordyn Wieber, a trainer and Nassar. But they eventually all left, leaving Maroney by herself with the disgraced team doctor.
"(It) was very, very hard for me not to acknowledge the fact that … this was not treatment. I was being abused," the gymnast recalled. "I was bawling, naked on a bed, him on top of me.
"I thought I was going to die. It was escalating."
Maroney said she felt "the dark part" of Nassar take over that night.
"When he was done, I was so happy that I could walk away from that. I felt like I just escaped something," she said.
Maroney said she brought up the incident the next day during a car ride with USA Gymnastics coach John Geddert and other gymnasts and she "said this loud".
Three gymnasts backed Maroney's account to NBC. Aly Raisman, who also won gold at the 2012 Olympics, said her teammate "basically described in graphic detail what Nassar had done to her the night before."
However, Raisman said Geddert "was in the car and just said nothing". This was the moment that hit Maroney hardest.
"That was the moment that I shut it down," Maroney said. "In my head, I was never gonna speak about (Nassar) again. And I was just gonna go along with it."
USA gymnastics denied knowing about the conversation Maroney described. The organisation had said they were unaware about Nassar's abuse until 2015.
Bela and Martha Karolyi, former co-ordinators and coaches for USA Gymnastics, also told the network they didn't know about Nassar's abuse and denied creating an environment for the since-convicted doctor to assault the young gymnasts.
"I feel extremely bad," Martha Karolyi said. "I don't feel responsible, but I feel extremely hurt that these things happened and it happened everywhere but it happened here, also."
Nassar has been sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for sex crimes. Maroney was one of more than 140 girls and women, including fellow Olympic gymnasts Raisman, Gabby Douglas and Simone Biles, who have come forward and accused Nassar of abuse.
Maroney said she was speaking out now to let others know there was no action taken even after she told someone about the assault six years ago.
"I'm appalled, I'm disgusted. I'm so upset that this happened for so long when there were so many signs and red flags," she said.