What did Simone Biles say in her testimony to the FBI regarding Larry Nassar allegations?
Simone Biles along with fellow Team USA gymnasts testified before the Senate Judicial Committee Wednesday saying “the FBI turned a blind eye to us”.
The Senate Judicial Committee heard testimony from Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney, and Maggie Nichols on Wednesday on the failures of the entire system investigating sexual abuse allegations. They are just a handful of the dozens and dozens of young girls and women former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar abuse during his career, even after officials and authorities were made aware.
In emotional and forceful testimony Biles said that the FBI had turned “a blind eye” to her and the other victims and that “no one at FBI, USAG (USA Gymnastics), or the USOPC (United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee) did what was necessary to protect us.”
The FBI and gymnastics officials did not warn gymnasts
The four gymnasts testified as part of a congressional effort to hold the FBI accountable in the botched investigation into the allegations of sexual abuse by the former official team doctor. Agents were made aware of the allegations in 2015 but no action was taken to prevent Nassar from abusing more young girls and women. All four testified they knew girls and women who Nassar molested even after gymnastic officials and law enforcement knew of the sexual abuse allegations.
Biles was one of those victims that the former head of USA Gymnastics Women’s Program Rhonda Faehn, was informed about. Bile's friend and teammate, Maggie NicholsIn told Faehn in May 2015 that Biles was possibly a victim. “While I was a member of the 2016 US Olympic team, neither USAG, USOPC, nor the FBI ever contacted me or my parents,” Biles testified. “While others had been informed and investigations were ongoing, I had been left to wonder why I was not told until after the Rio Games.”
"To be clear, I blame Larry Nassar and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse," Simone Biles gives her opening statement at a Senate hearing on the FBI's handling of the Larry Nassar investigation. pic.twitter.com/yPJX0ejnLg— MSNBC (@MSNBC) September 15, 2021
Simone Biles learned the magnitude of the abuse after Rio 2016 Olympics
Simone Biles despite being informed of the investigation into Nassar, she didn’t grasp just how many girls and women were potential victims of sexual abuse in the gymnastics program until the fall of 2016. “I didn’t understand the magnitude of what all was happening until The Indianapolis Star published its article in the fall of 2016 entitled, Former USA Gymnastics Doctor Accused of Abuse,” Biles said.
The Indy Star published another article that year detailing numerous cases of sexual abuse by coaches not being reported to authorities and who continued abusing gymnasts long after top executives at USA Gymnastics had received warnings.
"We've been getting empty promises from USAG and OSOPC for years," Aly Raisman says.— MSNBC (@MSNBC) September 15, 2021
"I think we all deserve more than words." pic.twitter.com/1xJTk8XIqW
The FBI delayed investigating sexual abuse allegations
The four survivors of Nassar’s crimes explained to the committee how the FBI failed to take action to stop the doctor’s unfettered access to children. Also, how agents downplayed the criminality of the sexual abuse that they had endured.
Aly Raisman told the senators that despite them having knowledge of Nassar, including film evidence, FBI agents didn’t question her for 14 months, even though she made several requests. Raisman told the committee that records showed that the Steve Penny, then-president of USAG, FBI agent Jay Abbott, and the men’s subordinates worked to conceal Nassar’s crimes.
When she was finally interviewed by the FBI, it was done under the watchful eye of USAG and USOPC officials, including Steve Penny, at the Olympic Training Center. She said she felt pressured by the FBI to accept Nasser’s peal deal, making her feel that her “criminal case wasn’t worth pursuing.” She told the committee that after the interview Penny and the special agent went out “for beers to discuss job opportunities in the Olympic movement.”
McKayla Maroney and Simone Biles exit after testifying in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.— Jason Donner (@jason_donner) September 15, 2021
So much respect for these women. The strength and bravery they showed today to hold people accountable and to make sure it never happens to anyone again. pic.twitter.com/9tp5ybXNJP
A call for accountability for all involved
In her testimony Biles called for those who enabled Nassar “to be held accountable.” Failing to do so, Biles is convinced it “will continue to happen to others across Olympic sports.”
“To be clear, I blame Larry Nassar, and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse,” Biles told the committee.
“We suffered and continue to suffer, because no one at FBI, USAG, or the USOPC did what was necessary to protect us,” Biles said. “A message needs to be sent: if you allow a predator to harm children, the consequences will be swift and severe. Enough is enough.”
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