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Sport Simone Biles says officials ignored horrific abuse

02:31  16 september  2021
02:31  16 september  2021 Source:   wwos.nine.com.au

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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 also appeared before the committee, along with FBI Director Christopher Wray. "I blame Larry Nasser, and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated [sic] his abuse ," said Ms Biles , the most decorated Olympic gymnast of all-time. "If you allow a predator to harm children, the consequences will be swift and severe," she added.

The scars of this horrific abuse continue to live with all of us," she said . "As the lone competitor at the recent Tokyo Games who was a survivor of this horror, I can assure you that the impacts of this man's abuse are not ever over or forgotten." Nassar was charged in 2016 with federal child pornography offenses and sexual abuse As I have stated in the past, one thing that helped me push each and every day was the goal of not allowing this crisis to be ignored . I worked incredibly hard to make sure that my presence could maintain a connection between the failures and the competition at Tokyo 2020."

Olympic gold medallist Simone Biles told Congress in forceful testimony Wednesday that federal law enforcement and gymnastics officials turned a "blind eye" to USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar's sexual abuse of her and hundreds of other women.

Biles told the Senate Judiciary Committee that "enough is enough" as she and three other U.S. gymnasts spoke in stark emotional terms about the lasting toll Nassar's crimes have taken on their lives. In response, FBI Director Christopher Wray said he was "deeply and profoundly sorry" for delays in Nassar's prosecution and the pain it caused.

The four-time Olympic gold medallist and five-time world champion — widely considered to be the greatest gymnast of all time — said that she "can imagine no place that I would be less comfortable right now than sitting here in front of you." She declared herself a survivor of sexual abuse.

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Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles broke down in tears as she shared her story of being sexually abused by USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. Biles , who has won 25 world championship medals and seven Olympic medals for Team USA, said in her opening statement that she believes the abuse happened because organizations created by Congress to protect her as an athlete — USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee — “failed to do their jobs.”

Olympic gymnast Simone Biles testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the sexual abuse by Larry Nassar. Video, 00:00:59 Simone Biles gives powerful testimony about abuse .

a person talking on a cell phone: U.S. Olympic gymnast Simone Biles testifies during a Senate Judiciary hearing about the Inspector General's report on the FBI's handling of the Larry Nassar investigation on Capitol Hill, on September 15, 2021 in Washington, DC. © Getty U.S. Olympic gymnast Simone Biles testifies during a Senate Judiciary hearing about the Inspector General's report on the FBI's handling of the Larry Nassar investigation on Capitol Hill, on September 15, 2021 in Washington, DC.

"I blame Larry Nassar and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse," Biles said through tears. In addition to failures of the FBI, 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."

Biles said a message needs to be sent: "If you allow a predator to harm children, the consequences will be swift and severe. Enough is enough."

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Simone Biles , America’s most decorated gymnast, has joined the list of athletes who say they were sexually abused by longtime US women’s gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar. In a post shared on her Twitter and Instagram pages on Monday, Biles detailed the ordeal she says she suffered while Biles is making her return to elite gymnastics after a one-year break and said it would be difficult to train in the same gym where Nassar allegedly molested her. “It is impossibly difficult to relive these experiences and it breaks my heart even more to think that as I work towards my dream of competing

Simone Biles said the FBI 'failed' her and other victims and revealed the abuse took its toll during the delayed Tokyo Olympics as she was forced to live with 'the reminders of this story for another 365 days'. McKayley Maroney revealed FBI agents asked her if Larry Nassar 'helped' her when he molested her the Raisman said it took 14 months for the FBI to contact her for an interview after she reported Larry Nassar's abuse and then 'pressured' her into accepting her abuser 's plea deal. Larry Nassar's first accuser Maggie Nichols said the FBI 'betrayed' his victims and that she is still waiting for answers six

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The hearing is part of a congressional effort to hold the FBI accountable after multiple missteps in investigating the case, including the delays that allowed the now-imprisoned Nassar to abuse other young gymnasts. At least 40 girls and women said they were molested after the FBI had been made aware of allegations against Nassar in 2015.

An internal investigation by the Justice Department released in July said that the FBI made fundamental errors in the probe and did not treat the case with the "utmost seriousness" after USA Gymnastics first reported the allegations to the FBI's field office in Indianapolis in 2015. The FBI has acknowledged its own conduct was inexcusable.

Simone Biles jumping in the air: TOKYO, JAPAN - AUGUST 03: Simone Biles of Team United States competes in the Women's Balance Beam Final on day eleven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Gymnastics Centre on August 03, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) © Getty TOKYO, JAPAN - AUGUST 03: Simone Biles of Team United States competes in the Women's Balance Beam Final on day eleven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Gymnastics Centre on August 03, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Wray blasted his own agents who failed to appropriately respond to the complaints and made a promise to the victims that he was committed to "make damn sure everybody at the FBI remembers what happened here" and that it never happens again.

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Simone Biles is latest gymnast to allege abuse . Asia Argento reportedly paid assault accuser. McGowan to Weinstein: We got you. New Yorker: 6 women accuse CBS CEO of sexual harassment. TV host returning after abuse allegations. Robin Wright on Kevin Spacey: We were saddened. "USA Gymnastics is absolutely heartbroken, sorry and angry that Simone Biles or any of our athletes have been harmed by the horrific acts of Larry Nassar," the group said . "We are our athletes' advocates. USA Gymnastics will continue to listen to our athletes and our members in our efforts of creating a

The champions of gymnastics Usa Simone Biles , Mckayla Maroney, Maggie Nichols and Aly Raisman have witnessed before the Senate Justice Committee on negligence of the FBI in the investigation into the sexual abuse of the former national team doctor Larry Nassar, sentenced in 2018 to 175 years in All four witnesses said they were his victims. In the hearing it was discussed how the FBI has handled the investigation on the accusations, presented for the first time in 2015. The director of the agency will also be called to testify, Christopher Wray, and the Inspector General of the Department of Justice

A supervisory FBI agent who had failed to properly investigate the Nassar case, and later lied about it, has been fired by the agency, Wray said.

McKayla Maroney, a member of the gold-medal winning U.S. Olympic gymnastics team in 2012, recounted to senators a night when, at age 15, she found the doctor on top of her while she was naked — one of many times she was abused. She said she thought she was going to die that evening. But she said that when she recalled those memories in a call with FBI agents, crying, there was "dead silence."

Simone Biles on a court: TOKYO, JAPAN - AUGUST 03: Simone Biles of Team United States competes in the Women's Balance Beam Final on day eleven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Gymnastics Centre on August 03, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images) © Getty TOKYO, JAPAN - AUGUST 03: Simone Biles of Team United States competes in the Women's Balance Beam Final on day eleven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Gymnastics Centre on August 03, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Maroney said the FBI "minimised and disregarded" her and the other gymnasts as they delayed the probe.

"I think for so long all of us questioned, just because someone else wasn't fully validating us, that we doubted what happened to us," Maroney said. "And I think that makes the healing process take longer."

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Biles and Maroney were joined by Aly Raisman, who won gold medals alongside them on the 2012 and 2016 Olympic teams, and gymnast Maggie Nichols. Raisman told the senators that it "disgusts" her that they are still looking for answers six years after the original allegations against Nassar were reported.

Raisman noted the traumatic effect the abuse has had on all of them.

"Being here today is taking everything I have," she said. "My main concern is I hope I have the energy to just walk out of here. I don't think people realise how much it affects us."

Simone Biles © Getty Simone Biles

Biles acknowledged in January 2018 that she was among the hundreds of athletes who were abused by Nassar. She is the only one of the witnesses who competed in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics — held this year after a one-year delay due to the coronavirus pandemic — where she removed herself from the team finals to focus on her mental health.

She returned to earn a bronze medal on beam but told the committee the lingering trauma from her abuse at the hands of Nassar played a factor in her decision to opt out of several competitions. At the hearing, she said she had wanted her presence in Tokyo "to help maintain a connection" between the failures of officials and the Olympic competition, but that "has proven to be an exceptionally difficult burden for me to carry."

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Democratic and Republican senators expressed disgust over the case and said they would continue to investigate. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Richard Durbin, D-Ill., said it was among the most compelling and heartbreaking testimony he had ever heard.

"We have a job to do and we know it," Durbin said.

https://twitter.com/InsideGym/status/1438178658150199300?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said Congress must "demand real change, and real accountability, and we will not be satisfied by platitudes and vague promises about improved performance" from federal law enforcement. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, called Nassar a "monster" and wondered how many other abusers have escaped justice, considering that even world-class athletes were ignored in this case.

The internal probe by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, who testified alongside Wray, was spurred by allegations that the FBI failed to promptly address complaints made in 2015 against Nassar. USA Gymnastics had conducted its own internal investigation and the organization's then-president, Stephen Penny, reported the allegations to the FBI's field office in Indianapolis. But it was months before the bureau opened a formal investigation.

The watchdog investigation found that when the FBI's Indianapolis field office's handling of the matter came under scrutiny, officials there did not take any responsibility for the missteps and gave incomplete and inaccurate information to internal FBI inquiries to make it look like they had been diligent in their investigation.

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TOKYO, JAPAN - AUGUST 03: Simone Biles of Team United States warms up prior to the Women's Balance Beam Final on day eleven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Gymnastics Centre on August 03, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) © Getty TOKYO, JAPAN - AUGUST 03: Simone Biles of Team United States warms up prior to the Women's Balance Beam Final on day eleven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Gymnastics Centre on August 03, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

The report also detailed that while the FBI was investigating the Nassar allegations, the head of the FBI's field office in Indianapolis, W. Jay Abbott, was talking to Penny about getting a job with the Olympic Committee. He applied for the job but didn't get it and later retired from the FBI, the report said.

Nassar pleaded guilty in 2017 to federal child pornography offenses and sexual abuse charges in Michigan. He is now serving decades in prison after hundreds of girls and women said he sexually abused them under the guise of medical treatment when he worked for Michigan State and Indiana-based USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians.

Litigation over the abuse may soon be coming to an end after USA Gymnastics and hundreds of Nassar's victims filed a joint $580 million settlement proposal in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Indianapolis last month.

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