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N.J’s Maggie Haney: sues USA Gymnastics over suspension

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Maggie Haney

Maggie Haney: Disgraced Maggie Haney, an Olympic gymnastics coach from New Jersey, has filed a lawsuit against USA Gymnastics, alleging that she was not treated fairly during the hearings that resulted to her extraordinary suspension from the sport.

Haney, a Freehold resident, sued USA Gymnastics and its top lawyer, Mark Busby, on Monday, alleging that the hearings against her violated the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act.

In an email, USA Gymnastics stated, “We are confident in the reason for suspension and will actively contest Ms. Haney’s assertions in the litigation.”

N.J’s Maggie Haney: sues USA Gymnastics

Maggie Haney

Laurie Hernandez, who won gold and silver at the 2016 Olympics, was coached by Haney, who previously coached at MG Elite in Marlboro. When mental and physical abuse claims led to an eight-year suspension, she seemed set for another trip to the Olympics with World team gold medalist Riley McCusker.

The suit claims that Hernandez’s and McCusker’s accusations against her were fraudulent and manufactured by Hernandez’s mother in order to avoid paying Haney.

Laurie Hernandez’s lawyer, Judie Saunders, vehemently refuted the allegations, claiming that the lawsuit was a form of gaslighting.

“Don’t forget that it’s the fear of coming up that keeps youngsters quiet in competitive youth sports when there’s abuse… so it’s wildly false.” “These charges are nothing more than modern-day gaslighting,” Saunders stated over the phone.

Hernandez is now training in California in the hopes of making her second Olympic team. In early March, she competed for the first time since 2016.

The lawsuit also claims that material that could have cleared Haney’s reputation was concealed during the proceedings, which it refers to as “trial by ambush.”

“Under USAG’s auspices, the ‘hearing’ was akin to no hearing at all.” “Never before (or since) Ms. Haney’s case has USAG suspended a coach purely on allegations of purported emotional harm, where no allegation of physical or sexual abuse was made,” the suit states.

After an arbitrator determined that some testimony was unfairly used against Haney, his suspension was reduced from eight to five years. Haney has not coached for any other gymnastics programmes outside of the USAG system, according to her spokeswoman, Lisa Mercurio.

The five-year punishment is still one of the most draconian ever imposed on a coach for non-sexual abuse. It covers both the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“In the world of athletics and the Olympics, their original charge of an eight-year sentence is UNPRECEDENTED and similar to a lifetime prohibition,” Haney said in a statement to NJ Advance Media.

McCusker, who is continuing her Olympic career in an Arizona gym, and current NCAA gymnast Emily Liszewski, both of whom are suing Haney in state court, have repeatedly refuted any allegations of abuse levelled against her.

Christopher M. Placitella, a lawyer representing McCusker and Liszewski in a lawsuit against Haney and MG Elite, said, “We provide no comment concerning the sad and disturbing circumstances surrounding Ms. Haney’s conduct and look forward to the exposition of the truth as our case progresses.” Both gymnasts have remained silent about the alleged abuse.

Haney is seeking monetary damages as well as the lifting of her suspension.

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