Olympic gold medalist McKayla Maroney says she was forced to stay silent about abuse by Nassar

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Olympic gold medalist McKayla Maroney says the group that trains U.S. Olympic gymnasts forced her to sign a confidential settlement to keep allegations of sexual abuse by the team’s doctor secret.

Maroney filed a lawsuit Wednesday in Los Angeles against USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee. The suit also seeks damages from Michigan State University, where the team’s doctor, Larry Nassar, worked for decades.

The lawsuit alleges the settlement was illegal and “for the purpose of silencing a known victim of Nassar.”

Maroney says she accepted the settlement in December 2016 after years of sexual abuse and “psychological trauma.” The terms weren’t disclosed in court papers.

Nassar has admitted to sexually assaulting female gymnasts, possessing child pornography and molesting girls who sought treatment.

The U.S. Olympic Committee says the group that trains Olympic gymnasts said it was contacting law enforcement about a team doctor suspected of sex abuse before it settled with a gold medalist who had been abused for years.

USOC spokesman Mark Jones says they were first made aware of the allegations involving a USA Gymnastics physician in the summer of 2015. Jones says USA Gymnastics told them team officials were contacting law enforcement.

USA Gymnastics said the settlement was legal under California law, adding that Maroney’s attorney asked for the confidential mediation process. The sanctioning body says the settlement included a “mutual non-disclosure clause and a mutual non-disparagement clause.”

USA Gymnastics says it first learned about the allegations against Nassar in 2015 and reported him to the FBI.

Michigan State University, which was also named in Maroney’s lawsuit, said it doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

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