Nastia Liukin Says Her “Heart Hurts” for McKayla Maroney Amid Sexual Abuse Allegations
Nastia Liukin says her heart hurts for fellow Olympic gymnastics champion McKayla Maroney, who recently accused their former USA Gymnastics doctor of sexual abuse.
Liukin, who competed in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, made her comments to E! News exclusively at the Breast Cancer Research Foundation’s New York Symposium and Awards Luncheon on Thursday.
“It’s awful, to be completely honest,” she said. “I was on the national team for so many years and so it’s quite devastating. It really is awful and my heart hurts for her and for all of those that were affected.”
Maroney, who was part of Team USA’s “Fierce Five” at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, had on Wednesday posted a letter on social media accusing Dr. Larry Nassar of molesting her when she was a young teen while he served as a sports physician for the U.S. Women’s National Gymnastics Team and Olympic Team. He has not responded to Maroney’s claims. In February, he was charged with sexually assaulting nine girls. He denies abuse and awaits trial in December.
Liukin said Nassar served as her doctor when she was “about 10 of 12 years old.”
“I was definitely shocked to start hearing about all the allegations and then, it really hits hard, because it was somebody that you thought you trusted,” she said. “Injuries were a big part of gymnastics and me making that Olympic team and he was kind of that person that was there, and so, it’s absolutely awful and disgusting.”
Fellow members of the Fierce Five have also voiced their support for Maroney.
Maroney had penned her letter after being inspired by the #MeToo Twitter campaign, in which scores of people, mainly women, have shared their stories about being sexually harassed. The initiative went viral last week amid reports producer Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulted and harassed dozens of women, including top actresses. He has apologized for his behavior but denies non-consensual sex.
“It’s time to make a change,” Liukin told E! News. “It’s time to kind of look at this and be like, ‘OK, what can we do?’ This has to stop, basically. It’s terrible.”
“It’s not just in Hollywood too. It’s in sports. It’s in normal life. Obviously, it’s been in the news and people are really starting to kind of be aware of a lot more things,” she said. “But it’s really awful. And it’s scary.”