McKayla Maroney is opening up about the abuse she suffered at the hands of Larry Nassar in her first television interview since first accusing the abuser

By Char Adams
April 18, 2018 12:55 PM

McKayla Maroney says convicted child molester Larry Nassar abused her “hundreds” of times, beginning at her first-ever meeting with the man when she was just 13 years old.

In her first-ever television interview about the headline-making allegations, the 22-year-old Olympian told NBC News that Nassar’s abuse was constant. She said it began almost immediately when she first went to the former gymnastics doctor nearly a decade ago.

“He told me he was going to do a checkup on me, and that was the first day I was abused,” she said, noting that he molested her hundreds of times. “[It was] every time I saw him.”

The former Olympian spoke to Savannah Guthrie for a special airing this Sunday evening, which also features the first-ever TV interview with famed gymnastics coaches Bela and Martha Karolyi about the Nassar scandal. An excerpt of Maroney’s interview aired on Today Wednesday morning.

Maroney initially revealed her alleged abuse in an October Twitter post, writing then that the abuse lasted until she left the sport.

“He said that nobody would understand this and the sacrifice that it takes to get to the Olympics, so you can’t tell people this,” Maroney, who competed in the 2012 Summer Olympics, recalled to NBC. “He didn’t say it in a way that was mean or anything like that.

“I actually was like, ‘That makes sense. I don’t want to tell anybody about this.’ And I didn’t believe that they would understand.”

Maroney also spoke about her appearance at the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children at The Pierre hotel in New York on Tuesday, and questioned whether her successful gymnastics career was “really even worth it.”

“I wasn’t listened to, cared about or believed, and all of those things need to be weeded out of society, because that’s where things went wrong,” she said, according to CNN.

RELATED VIDEO: PEOPLE Explains: Everything to Know About Ex-Gymnastics Doctor Larry Nassar’s Sex Abuse Case

However, Maroney added that revealing the abuse last year proved to be an important part of her healing journey.

“In a way, the fear turned to fearlessness when I knew it would help so many people,” she said. “I carried this secret around with me. A lot of people say it’s empowering to speak, and it really was.”

Japan World Gymnastics, Tokyo, Japan
Credit: Bullit Marquez/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Earlier this year, the disgraced former gymnastics doctor received lengthy sentences in Michigan’s Eaton and Ingham counties for sexually abusing girls and women for several years. In both hearings, several victims read emotional impact statements to the court.

Nassar has been called “the most prolific child molester in history.”

More than 250 women and girls have accused Nassar of assault, including gymnasts Aly Raisman, Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney and Gabby Douglas.

Officials with USA Gymnastics and the nation’s Olympic Committee have praised Maroney for her bravery. USA Gymnastics apologized to the athletes in a statement and said officials are “committed to doing everything we can to prevent this from happening again.”