WARNING: Graphic detail
THE face of America's gold medal-winning gymnastic team at the London Olympics has revealed graphic new details of the abuse she suffered at the hands of a team doctor.
McKayla Maroney's letters to the judge presiding over Dr. Larry Nassar's case, coupled with her mum's, detail years of sexual abuse that changed the woman she's become.
McKayla and Erin Maroney sent in the eye-opening letters for the judge to read in private, instead of McKayla making her planned appearance in the Grand Rapids, Michigan courtroom to testify against Nassar, the former USA gymnastics doctor she says abused her under the guise of medical treatment for six years.
"This experience has shattered McKayla," Erin Maroney wrote of her daughter, one of over 140 women to accuse Nassar of sexual abuse, in letters obtained by ESPN.
"She has transformed from a bubbly, positive, loving, world-class athlete into a young adult who was deeply depressed, at times suicidal. At times, I was unsure whether I would open her bedroom door and find her dead."
Maroney's parents are still haunted by the times McKayla was supposed to be under the protection of USA Gymnastics and her coaches, and yet was left unsupervised, giving Nassar easy access to perform his pseudo-treatments on her.
Erin and her husband were told they were not allowed to stay with their daughter at competitions overseas nor on the Karyoli Ranch, the USA team's training centre in Huntsville, Texas named after former coaches Bela and Marta Karyoli, where McKayla says Nassar first abused her.
One particularly disturbing incident, described in each of their letters, occurred during the 2011 world championships in Tokyo when McKayla Maroney was 15.
She remembers waking up from the team's flight, on which Nassar had given her a sleeping pill, and waking up naked in the doctor's hotel room.
"I ... learned a few weeks ago from my daughter that at the world championships in Tokyo, (Nassar) drugged her, made her lay nude on a treatment table, straddled her and digitally penetrated her while rubbing his erect penis against her," Erin Maroney wrote. "She was only 15 years old. She said to me, 'Mom I thought I was going to die.'
"I cannot tell you the anguish her Dad and I feel and the responsibility we feel for not being aware of this or being able to stop it."
McKayla Maroney, now 21 and retired from the sport for more than a year, said Nassar - who also worked at Michigan State for decades and has been accused of sexually abusing former student-athletes there - "treated" her both before she and the "Fierce Five" won their team gold and before she won silver in the vault in London.
"A simple fact is this. If Michigan State University, USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee had paid attention to any of the red flags in Larry Nassar's behaviour, I never would have met him, I never would have been 'treated' by him and I never would have been abused by him," McKayla Maroney wrote.
Two of Maroney's former U.S. teammates, Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas, also have come out with accusations of abuse against Nassar. Jamie Dantzscher, who won a bronze medal as part of the 2000 US Olympic team, was one of the first female athletes to file a lawsuit against Nassar in 2016.
Nassar's sentencing is scheduled for Thursday. While federal prosecutors have requested a 60-year prison sentence for the disgraced former doctor, he could face a minimum sentence of 27 years or up to a lifetime in prison.
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