Simone Biles blames 'entire system’ of USA Gymnastics for Larry Nassar abuse in senate hearing testimony

'I blame Larry Nassar and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse.'
September 16, 2021 11:55 a.m. EST
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The most decorated Olympic gymnast of all time, Simone Biles, fought back tears on Tuesday as she and fellow gymnasts Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Maggie Nichols, testified at an open Senate hearing about the FBI’s handling of the investigation into abuse perpetrated by former Team USA doctor Larry Nassar. Nassar is serving a life sentence in jail.

Simone began her testimony with a quote from Nelson Mandela: “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” 

“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.”

She briefly had to pause after becoming overcome with emotion. The Senate committee told her to take her time composing herself, which she did.

“To be clear, I blame Larry Nassar and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse,” she said. “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.”

This summer, the 24-year-old withdrew from competition at the Tokyo Olympics, citing mental health reasons, and during her testimony, she admitted the devastating trauma of Nassar’s abuse has stuck with her.

“The scars of this horrific abuse continue to live with all of us … I worked incredibly hard to make sure that my presence could help maintain a connection between the failures [around the Nassar case] and the competition at Tokyo 2020,” she said.

“That has proven to be an exceptionally difficult burden for me to carry, particularly when required to travel to Tokyo without the support of any of my family. I am a strong individual and I will persevere, but I never should have been left alone to suffer the abuse of Larry Nassar. And the only reason I did, was because of the failures that lie at the heart of the abuse that you are now asked to investigate.”

Simone then heeded a warning: “Nassar is where he belongs. 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.”

When Maroney testified, she slammed the FBI for fabricating details and for dragging their heels on the case when they knew the abuse was destroying the lives of young girls.

“After telling my entire story of abuse to the FBI in the summer of 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.

“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,” she continued. “What is the point of reporting abuse, if our own FBI agents are going to take it upon themselves to bury that report in the drawer?"

Nassar was able to abuse up to 70 athletes between the time the FBI first learned of the allegations and September of 2016 when he was fired by Michigan State University, and only because a police report was filed against him.

"On no planet is what happened in this case acceptable," FBI Director Chris Wray testified, noting that the bureau had fired one of the agents who had falsified Maroney's 2015 interview details.

Later, he added that the conduct of the agents who botched the case "was beyond the pale." One of the other agents involved in the substandard investigation retired before he could be disciplined. Wray only took the Director position in 2017 after these events occurred.

“I want to be crystal clear: The actions and inaction of the FBI employees detailed in this report are totally unacceptable,” he said. "I'm deeply and profoundly sorry to each and every one of you. I’m sorry for what you and your families have been through. I'm sorry, that so many different people let you down over and over again.”

"And I'm especially sorry that there were people at the FBI who had their own chance to stop this monster back in 2015, and failed."

Nassar has been accused by more than 330 women and girls at USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University of sexual abuse.

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