McKayla Maroney Speaks at NYSPCC Luncheon
The New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (The NYSPCC) held its annual Spring Luncheon on Tuesday, April 17th, at The Pierre hotel in Manhattan. This year’s Luncheon featured an intimate conversation between Olympic Gold Medalist McKayla Maroney and Dr. Mary L. Pulido, Executive Director of The NYSPCC, in McKayla’s first public remarks since revealing her abuse by former U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar.
Maroney first broke her silence via the hashtag (#MeToo) movement trending after the Harvey Weinstein scandal. In the letter posted on twitter, Maroney detailed the abuse she endured under Nasser, and passionately urged that "Our silence has given the wrong people power for too long, and its time to take our power back" Her former "fierce five" Olympics teammate, Aly Raisman showed tremendous support as she also suffered the same abuse under Nasser.
In a room of 250 guests, Maroney discussed her road to recovery, her thoughts on USA Gymnastics, Michigan State University (MSU), and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC)’s role in enabling Nassar’s abuse, and what she plans to do moving forward.
“Within the gymnastics world, there’s no question we need to rebuild from the ground up so this never happens again,” Maroney said. “I definitely see a future where athletes are safe and succeeding. My team won gold medals in spite of USA Gymnastics, MSU, and the USOC. They don’t build champions, they break them. But we’re changing that.”
“I at times question if my gymnastics career was really even worth it because of the stuff I’m dealing with now, because sometimes you’re just left in the dust,” Maroney continued.“You have to pick up the pieces of your life. That has been the hardest part for me, but it’s always three steps forward, two steps back.”
Maroney also stressed the importance of prevention and awareness via initiatives like The NYSPCC’s Safe Touches program, and asked the crowd to contact their local representatives to push for legislation that will close New York state’s private school child abuse loophole; currently, private schools are not required to immediately report child sexual abuse as public schools are mandated to do.
“We are so grateful that McKayla chose to share her story with The NYSPCC,” said Dr. Pulido, who also delivered a heartfelt speech about the need to protect children from sexual abuse. “When you hear about a horrific story in the media like the indescribable abuse from Larry Nassar, it’s easy to become discouraged and lose hope. It’s The NYSPCC’s mission to help children who have endured abuse like McKayla’s with our trauma recovery program. We hope that her remarkable bravery both in her sport and in her personal life inspires others to join the fight to end child abuse.”
“McKayla’s remarks were inspiring,” added Karl Wellner, President of the Board of The NYSPCC. “Despite the fact that she is still healing from years of abuse, she showed up today to remind us why the work The NYSPCC does is so important. Programs like Safe Touches, our child sexual abuse prevention program, can ensure that what happened to McKayla never happens again, and her support of The NYSPCC is invaluable.”
Nassar was accused of sexually abusing more than 260 women and girls, and was sentenced in February to an additional 40-to-125 years in prison after approximately 200 of those women and girls spoke in person or through statements in court.
The New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NYSPCC) was established in 1875 as the first child protection agency in the world. The NYSPCC laid the groundwork and assumed the main role in the protective investigation, removal, and placement of abused and neglected children when no other organization was willing. Today, we offer and promote programs aimed at the prevention of child maltreatment and the lessening of its harmful effects.
Since its incorporation 140 years ago, The NYSPCC has investigated more than 650,000 cases on behalf of over 2,000,000 children. The NYSPCC has also educated over 50,000 professionals who work with children on how to identify and report suspected child abuse and neglect.