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01/17/2018 10:12 am ET Updated Jan 17, 2018

USA Gymnastics Won't Seek To Punish McKayla Maroney For Speaking About Nassar Abuse

The organization says it won't enforce a confidentiality agreement if the gymnast speaks against the disgraced team doctor.

USA Gymnastics said Wednesday it will not seek to penalize Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney for breaking a confidentiality agreement to speak out against former team doctor Larry Nassar, an admitted sexual predator whose sentencing hearing began this week. 

The organization “will not seek any money” from Maroney if she speaks in court during Nassar’s hearing, USA Gymnastics spokeswoman Leslie King told HuffPost in a statement Wednesday. A 2016 confidentiality agreement with USA Gymnastics exposes Maroney to fines if she publicly speaks about Nassar’s abuse.

“USA Gymnastics has not sought and will not seek any money from McKayla Maroney for her brave statements made in describing her victimization and abuse by Larry Nassar, nor for any victim impact statements she wants to make to Larry Nassar at this hearing or at any subsequent hearings related to his sentencing,” King said. “This has been her right and USA Gymnastics encourages McKayla and anyone who has been abused to speak out. USA Gymnastics remains focused on our highest priority ― the safety, health and well-being of our athletes and creating a culture that empowers and supports them.”

Maroney tweeted in October that Nassar began abusing her when she was 13 under the guise of medical treatment. More than 140 women have now accused Nassar of serial sexual abuse, including Olympians Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman and, this week, Simone Biles

A sentencing hearing for Nassar began this week on 10 counts of first-degree sexual misconduct. The hearing is set to feature impact statements from 98 victims and family members. Nassar is already serving a 60-year sentence on child pornography charges. 

Maroney signed a confidentiality agreement with USA Gymnastics in December 2016 as part of a $1.25 million settlement that requires her to keep her allegations against Nassar quiet. Her tweet, as well as an impact statement at Nassar’s sentencing, potentially violate the agreement.

Model Chrissy Teigen stepped forward on Tuesday, tweeting that she would be “absolutely honored” to pay any fines Maroney faces for speaking out against Nassar.  

Maroney, in a statement through her attorneys, said she was overwhelmed by  the offer. 

“I’m shocked by your generosity, and I just want you to know how much hope your words bring to all of us!” Maroney said. “I just can’t get over the fact that someone I don’t personally know is sticking up for me, let alone a strong woman that I’ve looked up to for years.” 

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