Simone Biles, one of the most decorated gymnasts in Olympic history, publicly alleged Monday that she was also sexually assaulted by former USA Gymnastics team physician Larry Nassar.
Biles’s statement implied her abuse was similar to allegations made in lawsuits and public statements by more than 140 women, who have accused Nassar, under the guise of medical treatment, of probing and fondling without gloves, warning or permission. Before Nassar pleaded guilty to a series of sex crimes late last year, both he and his attorneys denied the allegations and maintained he was providing legitimate pain therapy.
“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 whom I was TOLD to trust,” Biles wrote.
Feelings... 💭 #MeToo pic.twitter.com/ICiu0FCa0n— Simone Biles (@Simone_Biles) January 15, 2018
Biles, who won four gold medals and a bronze at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, is the third member of that team, dubbed “The Final Five,” to accuse Nassar of abuse, along with Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas. McKayla Maroney, a gold medal-winning member of the 2012 Team USA women, and Jamie Dantzscher, a bronze medalist who competed at the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, have also alleged abuse by Nassar.
Biles’s announcement came the day before the beginning of Nassar’s sentencing hearing in Lansing, Mich., in which dozens of women are expected to read victim impact statements over the course of four days before a judge hands down a sentence for seven sexual assaults Nassar has admitted to as part of a plea deal. Nassar, 54, already faces a 60-year sentence for federal child pornography crimes and has one more sentencing hearing scheduled for later this month, for three more sexual assaults committed in another county in Michigan.
Raisman tweeted earlier Monday that she will not be attending Nassar’s sentencing “because it is too traumatic” but added that a letter will be read in court on her behalf. “I support the brave survivors,” she wrote. “We are all in this together.”
Nassar, a physician with a specialty in sports medicine, particularly gymnastics, worked full-time at Michigan State’s school of osteopathic medicine and treated young athletes at a campus clinic. He also volunteered for USA Gymnastics and treated Team USA women’s gymnasts at the Karolyi family ranch outside Houston and at competitions around the globe.
Biles is one of the few elite gymnasts to come forward with allegations of abuse by Nassar who intends to continue competing, setting up a potentially uneasy relationship between one of America’s most well-known, and beloved, Olympic gymnasts and USA Gymnastics, the national governing body for the sport.
Last March, Steve Penny resigned as chief executive of USA Gymnastics as he drew criticism for acknowledging he waited five weeks in 2015 to inform law enforcement after a gymnast complained about Nassar, and that, after deciding to end USA Gymnastics’ relationship with Nassar a few weeks later, Penny did not inform Michigan State, where Nassar continued to work until September 2016, when another woman came forward alleging abuse.
Penny and USA Gymnastics have defended their decision not to inform Michigan State by claiming that was under direction of FBI agents investigating Nassar. The FBI — which has taken its own criticism for the slow pace of the Nassar investigation — has declined to confirm this contention. USA Gymnastics and Michigan State — whose employees have been accused in lawsuits of ignoring complaints against Nassar as far back as 1997 — are both facing dozens of lawsuits filed by alleged Nassar victims.
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