Acclaimed Olympic gymnast Simone Biles made an emotional testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday, slamming the “entire system,” which she says allowed disgraced Olympic doctor Larry Nassar to take her and hundreds of other youngsters Sexually abusing women and girls.
“To be clear, I blame Larry Nassar and I also blame an entire system that enabled and committed his abuse,” Biles said when speaking during the Senate hearing on the FBI’s mishandling of sexual allegations Fought back tears of abuse against Nassar.
Biles said that USA Gymnastics and the US Olympic & Paralympic Committee knew she was being abused by her official team doctor and yet they did nothing.
Then, in July, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz published a bombing report detailing the FBI’s astounding failure to properly investigate the allegations against Nassar. While senior officials from the FBI Indianapolis Field Office sat on their hands, more than 70 athletes continued to be abused, according to the report. Investigators then lied to act urgently when faced with these failures.
Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Maggie Nichols are waiting to testify during the Senate hearing.
Saul Loeb / Pool / Getty
Biles, the most decorated gymnast in history, won a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics this summer after retiring from much of the Games due to mental health problems. Three other star gymnasts testified Wednesday – McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Maggie Nichols, who was identified as “Athlete A,” the first person to file a lawsuit against Nassar in the summer of 2015, citing abuse that began when she was 15 years old and caused back pain.
Raisman said the trauma of making allegations of abuse was so severe that she was often faced with basic tasks.
“I didn’t even have the energy to get up in the shower,” said Raisman. “I had to sit on the floor and wash my hair because getting up was too strenuous for me.”
“I’m 27 years old and my 80-year-old grandfather has more energy than me,” she added.
In a fiery statement, Maroney said she was shocked to learn that the FBI had not only failed to fully investigate her abuse allegations. When agents documented her allegations more than a year later, they made up their own narrative and made “totally false claims” about what she said during an interview, she said.
“You chose to lie about what I said and protect a serial child molester instead of protecting not just me but countless others,” said Maroney.
“What’s the point of reporting abuse when our own FBI agents take it upon themselves to bury this report in a drawer,” she added. “They had legal, legitimate evidence of child abuse and did nothing.”
She said FBI agents tried to convince her that Nassar’s abuse wasn’t that bad and described a telephone interview with an agent who paid little heed to her claims. After revealing that Nassar digitally invaded her for treatments that did not improve her injuries, there was a period of dismissive silence before the agent said, “Is that all?”
The Washington Post reported late Tuesday that the FBI had fired Michael Langeman, a supervisory specialist at the Indianapolis branch who was alleged to have failed to properly investigate Maroney’s allegations after an interview with her in 2015.
Horowitz’s July report, despite not naming Langeman directly, slammed both him and former head of the Indianapolis FBI office, W. Jay Abbott, for mishandling allegations and later investigating lies.
According to the report, Abbott was considering a job with the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee and had spoken to Steve Penny, then president of USA Gymnastics, about it.
Raisman, who said she felt pressured by the FBI to agree to Nassar’s plea deal, slammed senior Olympic officials and the FBI agents, who “reduced” their abuse allegations.
She expressed her disgust at Penny and others who she said could retire or resign “without explanation”, and effectively rewarded them for their failure to protect children.