WASHINGTON – Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles, considered one of the world’s greatest gymnasts, broke down in tears on Wednesday when she shared her story of being sexually abused by US gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.
Biles, who has won 25 World Cup medals and seven Olympic medals for Team USA, said in her opening statement that she believes the abuse happened because organizations set up by Congress to protect her as an athlete – the United States Gymnastics and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee – “failed to do their job.”
“I do not want another young gymnast or Olympic athlete or any person to experience the horror that I and hundreds of others have endured before, during and continue to this day in the wake of the Larry Nassar addiction,” Biles said. , her voice choked with emotion.
Her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday comes after an inspector report from the Justice Department, released in July, describes the FBI’s mistreatment of the case against Nassar.
Biles said that after reading the report, she felt that the FBI “turned a blind eye to us.”
“We suffered and continue to suffer because no one in the FBI, USAG or USOPC did what was necessary to protect us,” she said. “We have failed and we deserve answers. Nassar is where he belongs, but those who enabled him deserve to be held accountable. If they are not, I am convinced that this will continue to happen to others across Olympic sports. ”
The hearing on Wednesday also included testimonies from decorated gymnasts McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Maggie Nichols, who described their abuses in sometimes graphic detail and called for the institutions and people who should have protected them to be held accountable.
FBI Director Christopher Wray, who did not head the agency during the initial 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 compulsory education. He also confirmed that the FBI agent accused of not investigating the charges was recently fired.
Maroney, 25, now retired from the sport, repeated in detail what she first told the FBI during a three-hour interview in the summer of 2015.
“The first thing Larry Nasser ever said to me was to switch to shorts without underwear because it would make it easier for him to work on me, and within minutes he had his fingers in my vagina,” Maroney told lawmakers. “The FBI then immediately asked, ‘Did he stick his fingers in your rectum?’ I said, ‘No, he never did.’ They asked if he wore gloves. I said, ‘No, he never did.’ They asked if this treatment ever helped me. I said, ‘No, it never did.’ This treatment was 100 percent abuse and never gave me any relief. ”
Maroney said that on a trip to Tokyo, Nassar gave her a sleeping pill for the flight so he could “work on me later that night.”
“That night I was naked, all alone, with him on top of me and insulted me for hours. I told [the FBI] I thought I was going to die that night because he could not let me go. But he did, ”said Maroney, who went on to elaborate on many other cases as Nassar overtook her.
Maroney claimed that the FBI not only “minimized” her allegations, but also silenced her and falsified her report.
Aly Raisman, who is also retired from gymnastics and competed with Maroney at the London Olympics in 2012, said it took the FBI 14 months to interview her about allegations against Nassar despite many previous requests. Raisman said the FBI, USAG and USOPC “quietly allowed Nassar to slip out the side door” and continue his work, finding more than 100 new victims of assault.
“It was like serving innocent children up to a pedophile on a silver platter,” Raisman said, adding that the FBI also made her feel that her abuse “did not count, and that was not a big deal.”
Asked by lawmakers what kind of accountability gymnasts would like to see, Raisman said it is important to look at possible links between the FBI and the USAG and the USOCP through an independent investigation into allegations dating back decades.
“No one should be off limits. Nothing should be off limits, ”she said. “I personally would like to see all three organizations fully investigated.”
Biles added: “We would also like to see them at least be accused of being federal largely because they have to be held accountable.”
Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Said in his inaugural statement Wednesday that the report painted “a shocking picture of the FBI’s negligence and gross incompetence.”
“The FBI’s handling of the Nassar case is a stain on the agency,” Durbin said.
Wray appeared on another panel with the inspector general and apologized for the FBI’s failure to investigate the high school’s allegations in 2015.
“It’s unforgivable. It should never have happened and we are doing everything we can to make sure it never happens again,” Wray said. “I would like to make a promise to the women who showed up here today and to all survivors of abuse, I am not interested in just addressing this wrong and moving on. It is my commitment to you that I and my entire senior team is going to make sure everyone in the FBI remembers what happened here in heartbreaking detail. “
In another opening statement, Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Described Nassar’s assault as “disgusting” and “terrible” and said it should never happen again.
“There is no doubt that Larry Nassar was a monster – a terrible predator,” Blumenthal said, adding that a Senate report on the investigation focused not only on such monsters, but their enablers, “the institutions that failed you, the schools that “Michigan State University, USA Gymnastics, the coaches and the coaches. They all looked the other way.”
Senator John Cornyn, R-Texas, said lawmakers will not be happy with “platitudes and vague promises of improved performance.”
“If this monster was able to continue harming these women and girls after his victims first went to the FBI, how many other addicts have escaped justice?” Asked Cornyn.
The committee’s ranking member, Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said children “suffered unnecessarily” because several agents in several FBI offices “neglected to share” allegations against Nassar with their law enforcement colleagues.
Grassley said he is working on legislation to close a loophole in a stature on sex tourism, which the inspector general highlighted in his report.
“This gap in the law 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 abusing 10 of the more than 265 women and girls who have come forward to say they were abused. He is serving up to 175 years in prison.