'I blame Larry Nassar and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse' - Simone Biles gives evidence to the Senate Judiciary Committee
Olympic gold medallist Simone Biles has told US Congress in a powerful address how gymnastics officials turned a "blind eye" to the sexual abuse she and others suffered at the hands of doctor Larry Nassar.
The 24-year-old broke down in tears as she recounted the "horror" she suffered and blamed an "entire system" for enabling Nassar - who is serving life behind bars for child pornography offences and sexual abuse charges - to continue to prey on young gymnasts.
The five-time world champion told the Senate Judiciary Committee that "enough is enough" as she and fellow gymnasts, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Maggie Nichols spoke about the lasting toll Nassar’s crimes had taken on their lives.
Biles broke down in tears as she told the hearing: "I don't want another young gymnast, Olympic athlete, or any individual to experience the horror that I, and hundreds of others, have endured before, during and continuing to this day in the wake of the Larry Nassar abuse. "To be clear, I blame Larry Nassar and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse.
"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 added that a message needed 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 mis-steps in investigating the abuse case against Nassar, including the delays that allowed him to abuse other young gymnasts.
Biles: 'We have been failed and we deserve answers'
A Justice Department internal investigation, released in July, said the FBI made fundamental errors 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.
At least 40 girls and women said they were assaulted after the FBI had been made aware of the problem.
The FBI has acknowledged its own conduct was inexcusable.
Nassar 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.
Gold medal-winning gymnast Maroney told senators that one night when she was 15-years-old, 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.
Maroney said the FBI "minimised and disregarded" her after she reported Nassar and said the agency delayed the investigation as other gymnasts were abused.
"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.”
"My abuse was enough. We deserve justice," Mckayla Maroney tells the hearing
Olympic gold medallist Raisman told senators it “disgusts me” that she and other survivors are still looking for answers six years after the original allegations against Nassar were reported.
“We just can’t fix a problem we don’t understand, and we can’t understand the problem unless and until we have all of the facts,” Raisman said.
“Being here today is taking everything I have,” she added.
“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.”
Biles is the only one of the witnesses who competed in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics but 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 had played a factor in her decision to opt out of several competitions.FBI director Christopher Wray and Justice Department inspector general Michael Horowitz, who conducted the July report, will testify in a second panel after the gymnasts.