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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Simone Biles: ‘I blame system that enabled Larry Nassar abuse’


Elite US gymnast Simone Biles has testified before the Senate about abuse she suffered at the hands of disgraced former team doctor, Larry Nassar.

Former teammates Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney, as well as FBI Director Christopher Wray, testified before the committee.

The committee is looking into flaws in the FBI’s investigation of Nassar, who was later convicted of sexually abusing girls.

He is currently serving a life sentence in prison.

“I blame Larry Nasser, but I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse,” Ms Biles, the most decorated Olympic gymnast in history, said.

“The consequences will be swift and severe if you allow a predator to harm children,” she added.

Maggie Nichols, a gymnast who was the first victim to report her abuse to USA Gymnastics, also testified.

They were among the more than 200 women who testified in court in 2018 about Nassar’s abuse while he was the sports doctor for the US women’s national gymnastics team.

A long-awaited report into the FBI’s investigation, which was published in July, found numerous missteps and cover-ups by FBI agents, which allowed Nassar’s abuse to continue for months after the case was first opened.

The Department of Justice Inspector General’s 119-page report found that, despite the gravity of the allegations against Nassar, the FBI field office in Indianapolis had been slow to respond.

When confronted with their mistakes, two FBI officials lied during interviews to cover up their mistakes, according to the report. According to US media, one of these officials was fired by the FBI last week.

Ms Raisman called the FBI’s investigation “like guesswork” on Wednesday, while Ms Maroney, the only victim initially interviewed by the agency, described her experience as “deeply disappointing.”

“They chose to fabricate and lie about what I said in order to protect a serial child molester,” Ms Maroney told the committee. “What is the point of reporting abuse if our own FBI agents are going to bury that report in a drawer?”

Chair Dick Durbin stated that the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday would look into what led to the FBI’s investigation failing to “prevent future, similar tragedies.”

Mr. Wray is expected to face tough questions about the failures, as well as why agents found to have violated FBI policy were never prosecuted.

More than 330 women and girls at USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University accused Nassar of sexual abuse in total.

Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles is the most visible victim to speak out about his abuse. Ms Biles said she was “relieved” to break her silence after feeling “a lot of pressure” to keep the truth to herself for so long.

McKayla Maroney, who won gold at the London 2012 Olympic Games, has claimed Nassar sexually abused her for seven years, beginning when she was 13 years old.

“It seemed like whenever and wherever this man could find the opportunity, I was ‘treated,'” she wrote on Twitter in 2017.

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