Chrissy Teigen and Kristen Bell have vowed to support Olympian McKayla Maroney, who may be fined $100,000 if she speaks out later this week about the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of disgraced Team USA doctor, Larry Nassar.
So far, more than 140 women, including Olympian Simone Biles have said that they were abused by Larry Nassar over the years.
And, between Tuesday and Thursday, 88 women are expected to give victim impact statements in court.
McKayla Maroney, though, faces a $100,000 if she speaks out against the disgraced Team USA doctor, who was recently sentenced to 60 years in prison for child pornography.
In 2016, the gymnast settled a lawsuit against USA Gymnastics and agreed to sign a non-disclosure agreement as part of the deal, which also entails a $100,000 fine should she ever speak publicly about the molestation.
But, when Chrissy Teigen heard about the fine, she was quick to offer a solution.
Taking to Twitter, the model wrote: “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 honoured to pay this fine for you, McKayla.”
Since then, Michael Schur – the creator of The Good Place – has retweeted Teigen’s message and vowed: “I’ll split it with you.”
And Kristen Bell, who stars in Schur’s hit show, added: “I’ll 1/3 it with you, guys.”
Maroney, who does not have social media, released a statement to E! News via her legal team.
“I’m not on social media right now, but I wish I was for this,” she said. “I’m shocked by your generosity, and I just want you to know how much hope your words bring to all of us.
“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!”
Maroney added: “Thank you Chrissy, you’re so inspiring, and things are starting to change because of people like you.
“Just saying that was worth the decision to speak up regardless of a fine. You’ve a heart of pure gold. God bless.”
And, since then, USA Gymnastics has confirmed that it has not and will not seek retribution if Maroney speaks out or shares a statement regarding her alleged abuse.
The statement, which was shared with USA Today, reads in full: “USA Gymnastics has not sought and will not seek any money from McKayla Maroney for her brave statements made in describing her victimisation 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.
“This has been her right and USA Gymnastics encourages McKayla and anyone who has been abused to speak out. USA Gymnastics remains focused on our highest priority — the safety, health and well-being of our athletes and creating a culture that empowers and supports them.”
Nassar was recently sentenced to 60 years in prison for possession of child abuse images; he also pleaded guilty in November last year to “seven charges of first-degree sexual assault”. Hundreds of athletes have brought similar lawsuits, saying that he abused them “under the pretence of medical treatment”.
USA Gymnastics has released a statement saying it is “absolutely heartbroken” about the allegations.
“USA Gymnastics will continue to listen to our athletes and our members in our efforts of creating a culture of empowerment with a relentless focus on athlete safety every single day,” it wrote.
Image: Rex Features