The leader of the US Olympic Committee said in a letter he was not aware of the Larry Nassar sex-abuse allegations before law enforcement got involved, and that he had no knowledge of a settlement between USA Gymnastics and 2012 Olympic champion McKayla Maroney in a case involving the now-imprisoned former team doctor.
CEO Scott Blackmun sent the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, to key administrators and others in the US Olympic movement on Thursday, the day after Maroney filed a lawsuit seeking to invalidate the nondisclosure clauses in the settlement.
Along with USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University, where Nassar worked for decades, the USOC is named in the lawsuit, which says the USOC had long promoted a culture that concealed known and suspected sex abusers.
US Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun (L) sent a letter to US Olympic officials on Thursday, saying he was not aware of sex-abuse allegations against USA Gymnastics’ team doctor Larry Nassar (R), before law enforcement got involved
Blackmun also said he had no knowledge of a settlement between USA Gymnastics and 2012 Olympic champion McKayla Maroney (pictured in Hartford, Conn. on Aug. 17, 2013) for alleged sexual abuse she experienced, starting from the age of 13
Maroney’s lawsuit filed Wednesday alleges that USA Gymnastics actually tried to silence her nearly a year earlier by making her sign a non-disclosure agreement as part of a financial settlement she needed to pay for psychological treatment.
Maroney’s attorney, John Manly, called the confidentiality agreement ‘hypocritical, immoral and in this case illegal.’
‘Those responsible for this should be removed from the Olympic movement and USA Gymnastics,’ Manly told NBC News.
In the letter, Blackmun said:
‘I am so sorry that the Olympic family failed these athletes,’ and that while the USOC found out too late, it has taken steps to prevent future abuse by creating the US Center for SafeSport, which investigates sex-abuse allegations in Olympic sports.
‘And I want to be crystal clear on the topic of transparency,’ Blackmun wrote.
‘During my tenure as CEO, which began in 2010, we have never been, and will not be, party to any effort to conceal or keep confidential allegations or instances of sexual abuse.’
Blackmun addresses the media during the Team USA Media Summit ahead of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games on Sept. 25, 2017 in Park City, Utah
Maroney is seen here performing on the floor at the women’s team event final of the World Gymnastics Championships in Tokyo on Oct. 11, 2011
A lawsuit filed Wednesday by Maroney alleges that USA Gymnastics actually tried to silence her nearly by making her sign a non-disclosure agreement as part of a financial settlement she needed to pay for psychological treatment after sexual abuse by Nassar (pictured)
Manly, called the letter ‘repugnant.’
‘If you’re the USOC and you’re really committed to this, what you should do is get on the phone to the USA (Gymnastics) board and say you’re out or we’re decertifying you,’ Manly said.
Manly was referring to action he would like to be seen taken against USA Gymnastics for allegedly settling such a matter, supposedly without bringing it to the attention of the USOC, and then keeping it quite with a confidentiality clause.
He said Maroney’s main goal in the lawsuit is to be released from the nondisclosure and non-disparagement clauses in the settlement.
Maroney reached the settlement with USA Gymnastics in December 2016.
Maroney poses with the gold medal after helping the United States win the Artistic Gymnastics Women’s Team final on Day 4 of the London 2012
In October 2017, she publicly revealed the extent of the abuse she suffered in a Twitter post, saying Nassar began abusing her when she was 13 and attending national team training camp.
The tweet has since been deleted.
Nassar has admitted to sexually assaulting female gymnasts, possessing child pornography and molesting girls who sought treatment.
He was sentenced earlier this month to serve 60 years in federal prison for possessing thousands of images of child pornography.
Though Maroney was not part of that case, she and her mother wrote letters to the court detailing Nassar’s abuse and how it impacted the gymnast.
Blackmun said, of the US Olympic Committee: ‘During my tenure as CEO, which began in 2010, we have never been, and will not be, party to any effort to conceal or keep confidential allegations or instances of sexual abuse’