Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Maggie Nichols to testify in new investigation into abuser Larry Nassar
The elite gymnasts will be the central voices heard at a Senate Judiciary Committee investigating the FBI’s failure to look into Nasser’s conduct.
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Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles and other star gymnasts, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Maggie Nichols will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee for the investigation into Larry Nassar, more than three years after the former USA Gymnastics doctor was sentenced for sexually assaulting women and young girls under his care.
In January, Biles used the powerful hashtag #MeToo and posted a screenshot on Twitter, telling her fans and followers that she too was one of the many victims of sexual abuse at the hands of Nassar, and shared how hard it has been to finally impart her story.
“It is not normal to receive any type of treatment from a trusted team physician and refer to it horrifyingly as the ‘special’ treatment. This behavior is completely unacceptable, disgusting, and abusive, especially coming from someone who I was TOLD to trust,” Biles wrote.
The gifted gymnast also shared that her mental health has been severely impacted by the experience, and it’s difficult to continue reliving the abuse as she returns to the same facility to train for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
“Most of you know me as a happy, giggly, and energetic girl. But lately...I’ve felt a bit broken and the more I try to shut off the voice in my head, the louder it screams. I am not afraid to tell my story anymore,” Biles wrote.
In a conversation with Today, Biles said that the abuse was a contributing factor to her poor mental health and performance at the 2020 Olympics, where she withdrew from several events, citing mental and emotional concerns.
Elite gymnast Maggie Nichols was the first to report abuse by Nassar in the summer of 2015. When Nichols was only 15, she received treatment from Nassar for back problems.
“I trusted what he was doing at first, but then he started touching me in places I really didn’t think he should. He didn’t have gloves on and he didn’t tell me what he was doing. I accepted what he was doing because I was told by adults that he was the best doctor and he could help relieve my pain," Nichols said in a statement.
Nichols, who is now a gymnast at the University of Oklahoma, later discovered that Michigan State University had received complaints about Nassar’s behavior from other girls going back 20 years but ignored them.
“They never told USA Gymnastics. If they had, I might never have met Larry Nassar and I would never have been abused by him,” Nichols told NBC News.
2012 Olympic gold and silver medalist McKayla Maroney, also posted in support of #MeToo on Twitter in 2017, sharing her story of being abused by Nassar at 13 years old and said there must be zero tolerance for abusers.
“I had a dream to go to the Olympics, and the things that I had to endure to get there were unnecessary and disgusting,” Maroney wrote.
The four gymnasts will appear in person on the first panel on Wednesday, Sept. 15 during a hearing on the FBI’s handling of the investigation into Nassar.
The second panel will include Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz and FBI Director Christopher Wray.
In July, Horowitz released a 119-page report stating that the FBI failed to interview Nassar’s victims in a timely manner. It also said that the FBI’s Indianapolis field office made “fundamental errors” by failing to notify other FBI offices or state and local authorities.
The committee’s intention is to ascertain why the FBI’s Indianapolis field office failed to respond quickly and appropriately to the first accusations of sexual misconduct, thereby enabling the abuse to continue during the delay.
After Horowitz released the report in July, a bipartisan group of legislators, Sens. Dick Durbin, Chuck Grassley, Dianne Feinstein and Richard Blumenthal, announced the oversight hearing into the FBI’s handling of the case, slamming the agency for not preventing the abuse.
“The FBI’s failure to investigate Larry Nassar allowed at least 70 young women to be assaulted by him,” said Sen. Diane Feinstein. “No one should have to endure the horrors these young women suffered through.”