Former USA gymnast and Olympic gold medalist McKayla Maroney reportedly can’t testify against her alleged abuser unless she pays a six-figure fine — but a celebrity has stepped in and offered to pay.
Why the fine?
Maroney agreed to a settlement that paid her $1.25 million in 2016 in exchange for her signing a confidentiality agreement to keep quiet about former team doctor Larry Nassar, who faces life in prison after more than 140 women and girls from USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University accused him of abuse.
Nassar’s sentencing hearings on criminal sexual conduct charges take place this week, and Maroney would reportedly be fined $100,000 if she testified. At least 98 women are expected to give statements against Nassar this week.
What’s the problem?
Maroney entered into the settlement agreement willingly, but her attorney said she was emotionally traumatized at the time.
“I want people to understand that this kid had no choice,” attorney John Manly said. “She couldn’t function. She couldn’t work. [USA Gymnastics] was willing to sacrifice the health and well-being of one of the most famous gymnasts in the world because they didn’t want the world to know they were protecting a pedophile doctor.”
Maroney sued USA Gymnastics in December, claiming she was forced into signing the agreement as a part of USA Gymnastics’ effort to cover up the widespread sexual abuse.
USA Gymnastics claims the confidentiality agreement was initiated by Maroney and her legal counsel.
A celeb steps in
Model and television host Chrissy Teigen became aware of the arrangement, and expressed outrage at the settlement and potential fine. Here’s what she said:
“The entire principle of this should be fought — an NDA to stay quiet about this serial monster with over 140 accusers, but I would absolutely be honored to pay this fine for you, McKayla.”
Teigen’s tweet led to other users replying to say that non-disclosure agreements shouldn’t be enforceable in situations of illegal conduct.
We should pass legislation that limits the scope of NDAs such that they can not prevent anyone from speaking out ab… https://t.co/cjwRTvcMYu— Scott #DefundPolice #ACAB Menor (@Scott #DefundPolice #ACAB Menor) 1516121265.0
Laws must be changed. NDA’s should not be enforceable when the conduct is criminal or violates the law. https://t.co/180wdIqjaM— Gale Anne Hurd (@Gale Anne Hurd) 1516120404.0
Waiting for the successful legal challenges to NDAs that gag victims of sexual abuse & protect men who want to keep… https://t.co/zfnTJL7fdb— Joyce Alene (@Joyce Alene) 1516121338.0
Maroney did not respond on social media, but issued a statement to Teigen via her attorney:
“I’m not on social media right now, but I wish I was for this! I’m shocked by your generosity, and I just want you to know how much hope your words bring to all of us! I just can’t get over the fact that someone I don’t personally know is sticking up for me, let alone a strong women that I’ve looked up to for years! Thank you Chrissy, you’re so inspiring, and things are starting to change because of people like you! Just saying that was worth the decision to speak up regardless of a fine. You’re heart pure gold. God bless. All my love, McKayla “