Simone Biles Gives Emotional Testimony at Senate Hearing on FBI's Handling of Nassar Investigation
"We suffered and continue to suffer, because no one at the FBI, USAG or the USOPC did what was necessary to protect us. We have been failed," Simone Biles said
Simone Biles is speaking out against the "entire system that enabled and perpetuated" former Olympic gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar's "abuse."
On Wednesday, the gymnast, 24, joined fellow athletes McKayla Maroney, Maggie Nichols and Aly Raisman as part of a panel who testified at a Senate hearing on the FBI's handling of the Nassar investigation. The four women allege that the FBI made false statements in their official report, which they say, failed to document the survivors' claims.
In January 2018, Nassar, who was the former doctor for USA Gymnastics (USAG), was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison, after more than 150 women and girls said he sexually abused them over 20 years.
The hearing follows the Justice Department Inspector General report that said the FBI failed to properly respond to 2015 sexual abuse allegations against Nassar in their investigation.
On Wednesday, Biles opened the panel's statements, calling herself a "survivor of sexual abuse" and telling the committee of senators that the abuse she suffered took place due to the organizations that "failed to do their jobs" to protect them.
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"I am also a survivor of sexual abuse. And I believe without a doubt that the circumstances that led to my abuse and allowed it to continue, are directly the result of the fact that the organizations created by Congress to oversee and protect me as an athlete, USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC), failed to do their jobs," Biles said.
"I don't want another young gymnast, 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," said the seven-time Olympic medalist, who became emotional and fought back tears.
"To be clear, I blame Larry Nassar and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse," Biles continued.
The athlete also explained how she learned about the magnitude of Nassar's actions.
"USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee knew that I was abused by their official team doctor long before I was ever made aware of their knowledge," she said.
"In May of 2015, Rhonda Faehn, the former head of the USA Gymnastics women's program was told by my friend and teammate, Maggie Nichols, that she suspected I, too, was a victim. I didn't understand the magnitude of what all was happening until the Indianapolis Star published its article in the fall of 2016," Biles said.
"I sit before you today to raise my voice so that no little girl must endure what I, the athletes at this table, and the countless other who needlessly suffered under Nassar's guise of medical treatment which we continue to endure today. We suffered and continue to suffer, because no one at the FBI, USAG or the USOPC did what was necessary to protect us. We have been failed and we deserve answers," Biles said in her testimony.
"Nassar is where he belongs, but those who enabled him deserve to be held accountable," she said. "If they are not, I am convinced that this will continue to happen to others across Olympic sports."
Later, in response to a question from Sen. Patrick Leahy, Biles said she and other Nassar survivors would want to see those involved in the FBI's investigation to "at least be federally prosecuted to the fullest extent because they need to be held accountable."
After Biles, Maroney, 25, recalled, in detail, Nassar's previous abuse against her in her statements and told the committee: "They allowed a child molester to go free for more than a year and this inaction directly allowed Nassar's abuse to continue."
Maroney claimed that the FBI agents later made "entirely false claims about what I said" after she told them her "entire story of abuse" by Nassar in 2015. "Not only did the FBI not report my abuse, but when they eventually documented my report, 17 months later, they made entirely false claims about what I said," she said. "I was shocked and deeply disappointed at this narrative they chose to fabricate. They chose to lie about what I said and protect a serial child molester rather than protect not only me, but countless others."
The two-time Olympic medalist added, "To have my abuse be minimized and disregarded by the people who were supposed to protect me just to feel like my abuse was not enough. The truth is, my abuse was enough and they wanted to cover it up. USA Gymnastics in concert with the FBI and the Olympic Committee were working together to conceal that Larry Nassar was a predator."
In her outline of what she hopes takes place with this investigation into the FBI's mishandling, Maroney said, "These individuals clearly violated policies and were negligent in executing their duties, and in doing so, more girls were abused by Larry Nassar for over a year. To not indict these agents is a disservice to me and my teammates, a disservice to the system which is built to protect all of us from abuse. It was a disservice to every victim who suffered needlessly at the hands of Larry Nassar after I spoke up. Why are public servants whose jobs to protect, getting away with this? This is not justice, enough is enough."
Nichols, 24, spoke after Maroney in another powerful testimony. Nichols was the first athlete, called "Athlete A," to bring a sexual abuse complaint against Nassar to USA Gymnastics officials.
"I reported my abuse to USA Gymnastics over six years ago, and so my family and I received few answers and have even more questions about how this was allowed to occur and dozens of other little girls and women at Michigan State had to be abused after I reported," she said about Nassar, who worked for Michigan State University from 1997 to 2016.
"In sacrificing my childhood for the chance to compete for the United States, I am haunted by the fact that even after I reported my abuse, so many women and girls had to suffer at the hands of Larry Nassar," she continued.
In her closing remarks, Nichols added, "For many hundreds of survivors of Larry Nassar, this hearing is one of our last opportunities to get justice."
Last to speak to the committee was Raisman, who told the senators that the FBI made her feel "like my abuse didn't count, that it wasn't a big deal" and called for a "complete and full independent investigation" of the FBI, USAG and the USOPC. "Then from there, then we will know the answers of who should be held accountable," the six-time Olympic medalist said.
Following her statements, the group fielded questions from the committee with Raisman, 27, giving an emotional response about what she wants others to know about why they were speaking out.
"I can't tell you how horrifying it is to meet young girls who look up to me, who watched me compete in the Olympics and tell me that they went to see Nassar because of me and my teammates. Because they wanted to see the Olympic doctor," Raisman said. "I guess in his office, Nassar's office, he had some photos of us. And so they went to see him because they thought it was so cool to have the same doctor as us. That's been one of the hardest and most devastating parts for me. So many survivors suffer with guilt and shame."
If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 connected to a certified crisis counselor.