Simone Biles, who was sitting at a witness table with three of her former gymnastics teammates, broke down in tears as she explained to a Senate committee that she does not want any more young people to go through the kind of suffering she went through at the hands of Lawrence G. Nassar, the former national team doctor, during her time with the United States gymnastics team.
During a press conference on Wednesday, Ms. Biles, 24, said, “To be clear, I blame Larry Nassar, but I also blame a whole system that allowed and perpetrated his assault.” Her mother, Nellie Biles, sat nearby and dabbed her tears with a tissue as Ms. Biles spoke.
In addition to Ms. Biles, Mr. Nassar sexually abused hundreds of other young girls and women, including a majority of the members of the United States Olympic women’s gymnastics teams in 2012 and 2016, among others. Mr. Nassar is currently serving what amounts to life in prison for multiple sex crimes. His serial sexual assault of children is at the heart of one of the most significant child sex abuse investigations in American history.
McKayla Maroney, an Olympian from the London Games in 2012, also spoke, detailing in detail how Mr. Nassar routinely assaulted her, even when she was competing for a gold medal at the Games. Mrs. Nassar said she endured a terrible experience when she and Mr. Nassar were at a tournament in Tokyo. She was certain she “was going to die that night because there was no way he was going to let me go,” according to Mrs. Nassar.
Mr. Nassar’s assault was detailed to an FBI agent during a three-hour phone conversation from the floor of Ms. Maroney’s bedroom in 2015, when she was 19 years old and before she had ever informed her mother about Mr. Nassar’s abuse. The agent then inquired, according to Ms. Maroney, whether that was all she had to say: She said that she was devastated by the lack of empathy shown to her.
In a stunning U-turn, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Christopher A. Wray, admitted the agency’s mismanagement of the case and expressed regret to the victims. He said that the FBI had dismissed an agent who had been engaged in the investigation from the beginning – the agent who had questioned Ms. Maroney. Those present were the first members of the agency to be subjected to public scrutiny regarding the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s failure to adequately investigate a sexual abuse case that rocked the sports world to its very core.