In 2018, Larry Nassar was found guilty of sexually abusing multiple young athletes under his care as a doctor for USA Gymnastics, with more than 150 women and girls giving testimony of abuse. At the time of his sentencing, Nassar wrote a letter stating that the FBI had investigated him in 2015 and didn’t file charges. The Justice Department’s inspector general later filed a report in July 2021 stating that the FBI’s Indianapolis field office “made fundamental errors” in its Nassar investigation, lacked urgency, and “failed to take other steps to mitigate the ongoing threat posed by Nassar.”
Today, the Senate is holding a hearing regarding the FBI’s mishandling of the Nassar case, and the proceedings include testimonies by gymnasts Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Maggie Nichols, and Aly Raisman. In Biles’s heartbreaking testimony, she said that she survived Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse, and that blame is shared with the systems of oversight that failed to protect gymnasts.
“I am proud of my representation of gymnastics. I am also a survivor of sexual abuse,” Biles testified. “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 — failed to do their jobs.” The seven-time Olympic medalist continued, “I don’t want another gymnast, Olympic athlete, or 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.”
“To be clear, I blame Larry Nassar and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse,” she continued in no uncertain terms. “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.” Biles said that neither she nor her parents were informed about the Nassar investigations and the scope of his abuse as she continued to participate in USA Gymnastics, including the Rio Olympics in 2016. Biles notes that the USAG and USOPC have not undergone independent investigations yet. “These are the entities entrusted with the protection of our sport and our athletes, and yet it feels like questions of responsibility and organizational failures remain unanswered.”