Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast McKayla Maroney spoke publicly Tuesday for the first time since coming forward in October as a sexual abuse victim of former USA Gymnastics team physician Larry Nassar.
Speaking at the spring luncheon put on by the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children in New York City, Maroney said the following regarding the situation, per Bleacher Report's Natalie Weiner:
"The fear I had about speaking out turned into fearlessness when I learned that it would help so many people. We know that Larry was a monster. It happened for so long, and that's why we're standing up now, because it can't happen anymore. The fact is that USA Gymnastics, [the United States Olympic Committee], [Michigan State University] and everyone continued to look away—all they cared about was money. It almost feels like my duty to tell people."
Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison in January, and he was subsequently sentenced to 40 to 125 years in prison in February on multiple counts of sexual abuse against girls and young women. He was also sentenced to 60 years in prison for possession of child pornography.
In addition to his time as a physician for USA Gymnastics, Nassar served as a doctor at Michigan State.
Maroney was among the first high-profile gymnasts to speak out against Nassar. She did so with the following tweet in October:
Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Simone Biles and Jordyn Wieber also went public as victims of Nassar's abuse.
On Tuesday, Maroney expressed gratitude toward all the women who testified against Nassar during his trials, per Weiner:
"This year has been so huge for everyone speaking their truth, and I'm so proud and inspired of all the other women who testified. With everything that happened to me, sometimes it's hard to believe it actually happened. I almost needed to hear it over and over and over to understand it. So I want to thank all the women who testified. I want people to know that our voices together are stronger and that they're not alone. That it's not their fault, and it never should have happened."
Maroney also expressed her belief that American gymnasts have succeeded in the face of adversity, saying, "My team won gold medals in spite of USA Gymnastics, USOC, and MSU. They don't build champions, they break them. But we're changing that."
The 22-year-old Maroney represented Team USA at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. She won gold as part of the team event and took individual silver in the vault.