In 2016, Olympic gold medalist McKayla Maroney was among the first athletes to alert USA Gymnastics of the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of team doctor Larry Nassar — but on Tuesday, while dozens of his other victims speak publicly about their own ordeals, Maroney is confronted with the possibility of a $100,000 fine if she does the same.
In December 2016, USA Gymnastics agreed to pay Maroney a $1.25 million settlement months after she accused Nassar of sexual abuse. As a condition of that settlement, USA Gymnastics demanded Maroney sign a non-disclosure agreement that prohibits her from publicly discussing Nassar or her sexual assault.
Last month, amid a growing number of victims stepping forward to reveal they too were victimized by Nassar and ignored by USA Gymnastics, Maroney filed suit in California to get the NDA nullified.
Maroney’s lawyers argue that state law prohibits the inclusion of an NDA as a condition for a settlement in cases of child sexual abuse, and called USA Gymnastics’ effort to keep Maroney quiet “an immoral and illegal attempt to silence a victim of child sexual abuse.”
On Tuesday, Nassar is back in court for his latest sentencing hearing. More than 80 of his victims are scheduled to deliver victim impact statements, but if Maroney were to join them, she would run the risk of violating the NDA and triggering a $100,000 penalty.
That revelation did not sit well with model Chrissy Teigen. On Tuesday, when reports of Maroney’s possible fine began circulating, Teigen tweeted that she was prepared to foot the $100,000 bill if USA Gymnastics tried to collect.
The entire principle of this should be fought – an NDA to stay quiet about this serial monster with over 140 accusers, but I would be absolutely honored to pay this fine for you, McKayla. pic.twitter.com/lsBEgEqZpD
— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) January 16, 2018
It’s unclear if Maroney will be among Nassar’s victims to issue a public impact statement, or if USA Gymnastics would pursue the fine if she did.
Nassar was sentenced in federal court to 60 years in prison on child pornography charges last December, but this week faces additional sentencing hearings for his guilty pleas in ten cases of sexual assault.
Update: 5:21 PM. Maroney responded to Teigen’s offer via a statement circulated by her attorney on Tuesday afternoon.
“I’m shocked by your generosity, and I just want you to know how much hope your words bring to all of us!,” she said in the statement. “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!
Update: January 17, 9:45 AM. USA Gymnastics responded to Tuesday’s uproar over Maroney’s possible fine, confirming in a statement to USA Today that the organization would not seek any damages should Maroney choose to speak publicly about her ordeal.
“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,” the sport’s governing body said in a statement. “This has been her right and USA Gymnastics encourages McKayla and anyone who has been abused to speak out.”