Simone Biles and the U.S. Gymnasts Share Painful Testimony in Larry Nassar Case
"The scars of this horrific abuse continue...The impact of this man's abuse will never be over."
In 2015, gymnast Maggie Nichols told her coach that USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar had abused her and the FBI was notified almost immediately. But it wasn’t until 2016 that Nassar was fired from his position at Michigan State University and within that year an estimated 40 women and girls experienced abuse at the hands of Nassar.
Yesterday, September 15th, Nichols and her fellow teammates, Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, and Aly Raisman, testified at a Senate hearing into the FBI’s management—or, rather, mismanagement—of the case, and the women said they want answers and justice.
“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 needlessly suffer at the hands of Larry Nassar,” Nichols said in her statement. “USA Gymnastics, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, and the FBI have all betrayed me.”
In July, the Justice Department concluded an investigation that found the FBI did not take Nichols’ report seriously enough, as was evident by the fact they waited over a year to even interview her after receiving the report.
Biles, who was also repeatedly abused by Nassar, 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.” After getting emotional, she continued, “To be clear, I blame Larry Nassar and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse,” and she called out USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee.
“Over the past few years, it has become painfully clear how a survivor’s healing is affected by the handling of their abuse,” Raisman said during her Senate testimony. “And it disgusts me that we are still fighting for the most basic answers and accountability over six years later.”
She noted that it took over 14 months for the FBI to finally contact her despite Raisman asking them for an interview several times before that.
Though the Justice Department has concluded that agents closely involved in the Nassar case are at fault, no charges have been pressed yet. Special Agent Michael Langeman was fired recently and his supervisor Jay Abbott had previously resigned.
The scars of this horrific abuse continue, Biles said, adding the impact of this man’s abuse will never be over.
FBI Director Christopher Wray, who also attended and testified at the Senate hearing told Nichols, Biles, Maroney, and Raisman, that he is “deeply and profoundly sorry that so many people let you down over and over again” and “that on no planet is what happened in this case acceptable.”
As Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Richard Durbin said, the way this case was handled is truly a “stain on the bureau.”