WATCH LIVE: Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, other gymnasts testify about Larry Nassar abuse investigation
Four elite U.S. gymnasts are set to testify Sept. 15 before the Senate Judiciary Committee as lawmakers examine how the FBI handled its investigation of former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, who was convicted in 2018 of sexually abusing women and young female athletes in his care. Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Maggie Nichols and Aly Raisman will all testify at the hearing, as will Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz and FBI Director Chris Wray. WARNING: This livestream could contain descriptions of sexual abuse.
Olympic gold medalist 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 medalist 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.
"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."
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.
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.
Simone Biles withdrew from the women's all-around final at Toyko 2020. A few days later, the American gymnast competed for the first time since the team event final in artistic gymnastics at the Olympics, capturing a bronze medal in the balance beam - her seventh career Olympic medal. Enjoy the best of Simone Biles at the Olympics!
The brave gymnasts who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week about the sexual abuse they suffered at the hands of Larry Nassar had a proud supporter in their corner.
Angelina Jolie shared a photo on Instagram Thursday of her with five of the women to express her admiration as they fight for change and accountability after the FBI admitted on Wednesday to mishandling the investigation into the former USA Gymnastics doctor.
"I was honored to meet with some of the brave US gymnasts who appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday," Jolie wrote. "I’m in awe of their courage and commitment to preventing future failures to investigate abuse. As Aly Raisman said in her testimony, “Over 100 victims could have been spared the abuse. All we needed was one adult to do the right thing.”'
"Sending support and respect to them, and to all who are reliving this trauma so that system reforms can occur. I was on Capitol Hill this week, engaging with Senators on the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization and FBI reforms, including better protections for abused children, non-biased forensic evidence collection, trauma care, and judicial training."
Jolie is pictured with former elite gymnasts Kaylee Lorincz, Maggie Nichols, McKayla Maroney, Jessica Howard and Aly Raisman, who all said they suffered sexual abuse by Nassar. The disgraced doctor is serving up to 175 years in prison after pleading guilty to abusing 10 of the more than 265 accusers who came forward.
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.
The committee is examining shortcomings in the FBI's investigation into Nassar, later convicted of sexually abusing girls.
He is serving a life sentence in jail.
"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.
Gymnast Maggie Nichols - the first victim to report her abuse to USA Gymnastics - also testified.
What did the women say? In emotional testimony on Wednesday, the four women told the Senate Judiciary Committee they had "suffered and continue to suffer" from the abuse they experienced and its bungled handling.
Four-time Olympic gold medallist Simone Biles - one of the most famous figures in world sports - called for the agents involved to be federally prosecuted.
"How much is a little girl worth?" she asked.
Aly Raisman, who served as captain of the 2012 and 2016 US Olympic gymnastics teams, expressed disgust that she was "still fighting for the most basic answers and accountability" more than six years after first reporting her abuse.
"Over the past few years it has become painfully clear how a survivor's healing is affected by the handling of their abuse," she testified.
She criticised the FBI investigation as being "like guesswork", warning that not addressing its serious flaws would result in a recurring "nightmare" for many more women.
McKayla Maroney, who won gold at the London 2012 Olympic Games, described the experience of being interviewed by the FBI as replete with "silence and disregard for my trauma".
"They chose to fabricate, to lie about what I said and protect a serial child molester," she told senators.
"What is the point of reporting abuse if our own FBI agents are going to take it upon themselves to bury that report in a drawer?"