On Wednesday, Olympic gymnast Simone Biles testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding the environment that led to her being sexually abused by former Olympic physician Larry Nassar, reports NBC News.
Filled with emotion in her opening statement, Biles denounced the “entire system” that she claimed enabled Nassar to sexually abuse her and hundreds of other young women and girls for years.
“To be clear, I blame Larry Nassar and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse,” Biles said as she fought back tears.
“I don’t want another young gymnast or Olympic athlete, or any individual to experience the horror that I and hundreds of others have endured before, during, and continuing to this day in the wake of the Larry Nassar abuse,” she continued.
Biles said that both the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee and USA Gymnastics were aware that she and a plethora of other young girls were being abused by Nassar and did nothing to stop the abuse. She said the organizations were supposed to protect them but they “failed to do their jobs.”
Along with Biles, three other gymnasts, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, and Maggie Nichols, who was identified as “Athlete A,” gave testimonies about Nassar abusing them. Nichols was the first person to go public with allegations against Nassar in the summer of 2015. She alleged that the abuse began when she was only 15 years old and led to chronic back pain.
Biles’ testimony comes after a Justice Department inspector general report was released in July detailing the FBI’s mismanagement of the case against Nassar. The report discovered that when the gymnasts first reported the sexual assault allegations to the FBI in 2015, Nassar continued to treat gymnasts at a gymnastics club, a high school, and at Michigan State University until September 2016, CBS News reported.
FBI Director Christopher Wray said federal investigators made “totally unacceptable” errors in their failure to diligently investigate the sexual abuse allegations levied at Nassar. One agent who failed to act on one gymnast’s accusations and later lied about his role in the investigation was recently fired.
“When I received the inspector general’s report and saw that the supervisory special agent in Indianapolis had failed to carry out even the most basic parts of the job, I immediately made sure he was no longer performing the functions of a special agent,” Wray said. “And I can now tell you that individual no longer works for the FBI in any capacity.”
Biles said that after reading the report, she felt the FBI “turned a blind eye to us.”
“We suffered and continue to suffer because no one at the FBI, USAG, or the USOPC did what was necessary to protect us,” she said. “We have been 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.”
In 2017, Nassar pleaded guilty to abusing 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.