WASHINGTON – Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles, considered one of the greatest gymnasts in the world, burst into tears on Wednesday as she shared her story of sexual abuse by U.S. gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.
Biles, who won 25 world championship medals and seven Olympic medals for Team USA, said in her opening statement that she believes the abuse happened because organizations were created by Congress to protect her as an athlete – USA Gymnastics and the Olympic and United States Paralympic Committee – “failed to do their job.”
“I don’t want another young gymnast, Olympic athlete or other person to experience the horror I and hundreds of others went through before, during, and to this day after the Larry Nassar abuse,” said Biles. her voice choked with emotion.
Her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee comes Wednesday after a Justice Department general’s report released in July detailed the FBI’s mishandling of the Nassar case.
Biles said that after reading the report, she felt that the FBI had “turned a blind eye”.
“We have suffered and continue to suffer because no one in the FBI, USAG or USOPC did what was necessary to protect us,” she said. “We failed and deserve answers. Nassar is where he belongs, but those who made it possible deserve to be held accountable. If this is not the case, I am convinced that it will continue to happen to others in Olympic sports. “
Wednesday’s hearing also included testimony from decorated gymnasts McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Maggie Nichols, who sometimes vividly detailed their abuse and called for the institutions and individuals who should have been protecting them to be held accountable.
FBI Director Christopher Wray, who did not run the agency during the original investigation, and Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz also testified before the committee. Wray said the FBI would consider recommendations from Horowitz’s report, such as mandatory training. He also confirmed that the FBI agent, who was accused of not investigating the allegations, was recently released.
Maroney, 25, who has since retired from the sport, repeated at length what she first told the FBI in a three-hour conversation in the summer of 2015.
“The first thing Larry Nasser told me was to put on shorts with no underwear because it would make work on me easier, and in minutes he had his fingers in my vagina,” Maroney told lawmakers. “The FBI then immediately asked, ‘Did he put his fingers in your rectum?’ I said, ‘No, he never has.’ They asked if he was using gloves. I said, ‘No, he never has.’ They asked if this treatment had ever helped me. I said, ‘No, never did.’ This treatment was 100 percent abuse and never brought any relief. “
Maroney said that while on a trip to Tokyo, Nassar gave her a sleeping pill for the plane so he could “work on me later that night.”
“That evening I was naked, all alone, with him above me and molested myself for hours. I said [the FBI] I thought I was going to die that night because there was no way he was going to let me go. But he did, ”said Maroney, who listed many other cases of Nassar molesting her.
Maroney alleged that the FBI not only “minimized” her allegations, but also silenced her and falsified her report.
Aly Raisman, who has also retired from gymnastics and competed with Maroney in the London 2012 Olympics, said it took the FBI 14 months to interview her on the allegations against Nassar, despite many previous inquiries. Raisman said the FBI, USAG and USOPC “quietly allowed Nassar to slip through the side door” and continue his work and find more than 100 new victims who could be molested.
“It was like serving innocent children to a pedophile on a silver platter,” Raisman said, adding that the FBI also made her feel that her abuse “didn’t matter and it wasn’t a big deal.”
When asked by lawmakers what kind of accountability the gymnasts would like to see, Raisman said it was important to investigate all links between the FBI and the USAG and the USOCP through an independent investigation into allegations dating back decades.
“Nobody should be taboo. Nothing should be forbidden, ”she said. “Personally, I want all three organizations to be fully investigated.”
Biles added, “We also want them to be at least fully federally prosecuted for holding them accountable.”
Judicial Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Said in his opening statement on Wednesday that the report paints “a shocking picture of the FBI’s neglect and gross incompetence.”
“The FBI’s handling of the Nassar case is a flaw in the office,” said Durbin.
Wray appeared on a second panel with the Inspector General, apologizing for the FBI’s failure to investigate Turner’s claims in 2015.
“That is inexcusable. It should never have happened and we are doing everything in our power to make sure it never happens again,” Wray said. “I want to make a promise to the women who appeared here today and to all of the abuse survivors, I’m not interested in just addressing this injustice and moving on. I and my entire leadership team are my obligation to you.” that everyone at the FBI remembers in heartbreaking detail what happened here. “
In another opening statement, Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn described. Nassar’s abuse as “hideous” and “hideous” and said that this should never happen again.
“There is no question that Larry Nassar was a monster – a terrible predator,” said Blumenthal, adding that a Senate report on the investigation focused not only on such monsters but also on their enablers, “the institutions that you.” The schools like Michigan State University, USA Gymnastics, the coaches and coaches all looked the other way. “
Senator John Cornyn, R-Texas, said lawmakers will not settle for “platitudes and vague promises of improved performance.”
“If this monster continued to harm these women and girls after its victims first went to the FBI, how many other perpetrators have escaped justice?” Cornyn asked.
Senior committee member Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said children “suffered unnecessarily” because several agents in several FBI offices “failed” to share allegations against Nassar with their law enforcement colleagues.
Grassley said he was working on legislation to fill a loophole in a sex tourism bill that the inspector general highlighted in his report.
“This loophole has allowed Nassar to evade federal prosecution for assaulting children while traveling abroad, and that can never happen again,” he said
In 2017, Nassar pleaded guilty to molesting 10 of the more than 265 women and girls who came forward to say they were molested. He is serving up to 175 years in prison.