Photo: SAUL LOEB / POOL / AFP / Getty Images
The Olympic Champion Simone biles forced this Wednesday, September 15, 2021 to USA to question the system that allowed Larry Nassar use his position as doctor of the national team of gymnastics to sexually abuse her and hundreds of young athletes.
His voice cracked with emotion, Biles drew the strength to demand responsibility from the Gymnastics Federation (USA Gymnastics), to the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee and to FBI for allowing Nassar to continue abusing the gymnasts despite the fact that there were already complaints against him.
“I blame Larry Nassar and I also blame the entire system that allowed and perpetrated that abuse. USA Gymnastics and the Olympic committee and the US Paralympic knew that he was being abused by the official team doctor, ”Biles told the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The Olympic champion also accused the FBI of having “turned your back”To the gymnasts for having responded inadequately and slowly to the first accusations of sexual abuse against Nassar, which allowed him to continue perpetuating his abuses for months.
For Biles, “an entire system allowed and perpetrated” these abuses against her and hundreds of young people, that because of their age they did not even know that Nassar was abusing them.
“I do not want any other young Olympian or individual to suffer the horror that I and hundreds of others have endured and continue to endure to this day.”Said the gymnast, who burst into tears before dozens of legislators who were watching her in silence.
Biles was accompanied by three other gymnasts who suffered abuse from the former national team doctor and who encouraged each other by holding hands or exchanging supportive glances.
Fear for one’s life
One of them, McKayla Maroney, who began to suffer abuse at the age of 13, recounted an incident that he suffered in 2015 in a hotel room in Tokyo and in which he came to fear for his life.
“That night I was naked, completely alone, with him abusing me for hours. I told the FBI that I thought I was going to die that night, because he was not going to let me go. But he did ”, he narrated Maroney.
Reading her testimony from her phone, in a firm and visibly indignant voice, Maroney said that Nassar even assaulted her at the 2012 London Olympics before he won a gold medal.
Nassar’s abuses were continuous and had consequences for the career of gymnasts such as Maggie Nichols, who was the first active athlete to report the abuses to the American Gymnastics Federation and who later was not selected again for the Olympic team.
“For hundreds of Larry Nassar survivors, this hearing is our last chance for justice.Nichols said.
Aly Raisman, for her part, recounted the impact that abuse has had on the lives of athletes.
She, she narrated, went from training at the highest level for seven hours a day to having to sitting in the shower so she could wash her hair because she didn’t have enough energy to stand up.
The main objective of the Senate hearing in which the athletes appeared is to clarify why the FBI office in Indianapolis – where the Gymnastics Federation– rinadequately sponsored complaints against Nassar.
An internal Justice Department report revealed last July serious mistakes within the FBI that stalled the investigation for months.
Hours before today’s hearing, local media reported that the FBI had fired agent Michael Langeman, one of those in charge of supervising the investigation into Nassar and who lied to the Justice Department during the internal investigation.
That investigation revealed that, in 2015, as gymnasts denounced the abuse, the head of the FBI’s Indianapolis office, Jay Abbott, now retired, was in talks with then-gymnastics federation president Steve Penny about a job on the Olympic Committee, something that ultimately didn’t happen.
The director of the FBI, Christopher Wray, also appeared this Wednesday before the Senate committee and apologized to the survivors of the abuses.
“I want to be very clear: the actions and inactions of the FBI employees were totally unacceptable “said Wray, who however did not announce actions against the agents.
Larry Nassar, who abused more than 330 youth, serve a sentence between 40 and 175 years added to another 60 years for child pornography, a de facto life sentence.
He received his sentences between December 2017 and February 2018, in trials that coincided with the outbreak of the movement #MeToo.
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