Sep 15, 2021
Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Gymnasts Testimony on Larry Nassar Abuse Investigation: Full Hearing Transcript
Gymnasts Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney, and Maggie Nichols testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 15, 2021 about the FBI’s handling of the Larry Nassar investigation. Read the transcript of the full hearing here.
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Chairman Dick Durbin: (00:02)
If you’d raise your right hand, do you affirm that the testimony you’re about to give before the committee will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God. Let the record show that the witnesses answered in the affirmative. Be seated. Ms. Biles, you’re first, if you’d like to give your opening statement.
Simone Biles: (00:27)
Did I. Oh, it’s on, sorry.
Chairman Dick Durbin: (00:30)
If you’ll pull the microphone close to you, it works much better.
Simone Biles: (00:35)
Thank you for the opportunity to share my story with this committee and for bringing light to the crisis of abuse in amateur sports. Your commitment to ensuring the safety of gymnasts in all amateur athletes is appreciated, important and necessary to ensure nothing like this ever happens again. Please bear with me. To be perfectly honest, I can imagine no place that I would be less comfortable right now than sitting here in front of you sharing these comments. My name is Simone Biles and I am a gymnast who has trained at the levels of the sport. As an elite gymnast, I’ve had the honor to represent the United States of America in multiple international competitions, including World Championships and the Olympic games. Over the course of my gymnastics career, I have won 25 World Championship medals and seven Olympic medals for Team USA. That record means so much to me and I am proud of my representation of this nation through gymnastics.
Simone Biles: (01:32)
I am also a survivor of sexual abuse and I believe without a doubt that the circumstances that led to my abuse and allowed it to continue are directly the result of the fact that the organizations created by Congress to oversee and protect me as an athlete, USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee, failed to do their jobs. Nelson Mandela once said, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” It is the power of that statement that compels and empowers me to be here in front of you today. 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 Nasser abuse. To be clear… Sorry.
Chairman Dick Durbin: (02:37)
Take your time.
Simone Biles: (02:41)
To be clear, I blame Larry Nasser and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse. USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee knew that I was abused by their official team doctor long before I was ever made aware of their knowledge. In May of 2015, Rhonda Faehn, the former head of USA Gymnastics Women’s Program, was told by my friend and teammate, Maggie Nichols, that she suspected I too was a victim. I didn’t understand the magnitude of what all was happening until The Indianapolis Star published its article in the fall of 2016 entitled, Former USA Gymnastics Doctor Accused of Abuse. Yet, while I was a member of the 2016 US Olympic team, neither USAG, USOPC, nor the FBI ever contacted me or my parents. While others had been informed and investigations were ongoing, I had been left to wonder why I was not told until after the Rio Games.
Simone Biles: (03:54)
This is the largest case of sexual abuse in the history of American sport, and although there has been a fully independent investigation of the FBI’s handling of the case, neither USAG, nor USOPC, have ever been made the subject of the same level of scrutiny. These are the entities entrusted with the protection of our sport and our athletes, and yet it feels like questions of responsibility and organizational failures remain unanswered.
Simone Biles: (04:24)
As you pursue the answers to those questions, I ask that your work be guided by the same question that Rachael Denhollander and many others have asked, “How much is a little girl worth?” I sit before you today to raise my voice so that no little girl must endure what I, the athletes at this table, and the countless others who needlessly suffered under Nassar’s guise of medical treatment, which we continue to endure today. We suffered and continue to suffer because no one at FBI, USAG, or the USOPC did what was necessary to protect us. We have been failed and we deserve answers. Nassar is where he belongs, but those who enabled him deserve to be held accountable. If they are not, I am convinced that this will continue to happen to others across Olympic sports. In reviewing the OIG’s report, it truly feels like the FBI turned a blind eye to us and went out of its way to help protect USAG and USOPC. A message needs to be sent. If you allow a predator to harm children, the consequences will be swift and severe. Enough is enough.
Simone Biles: (05:38)
I will close with one final thought. The scars of this horrific abuse continue to live with all of us. As the lone competitor in the recent Tokyo Games, who is a survivor of this horror, I can ensure you that the impacts of this man’s abuse are not ever over or forgotten. The announcement in the spring of 2020 that the Tokyo Games were to be postponed for a year meant that I would be going to the gym, to training, to therapy, living daily among the reminders of this story for another 365 days.
Simone Biles: (06:12)
As I have stated in the past, one thing that helped me push each and every day was the goal of not allowing this crisis to be ignored. I worked incredibly hard to make sure that my presence could maintain a connection between the failures and the competition at Tokyo 2020. That has proven to be exceptionally difficult burden for me to carry, particularly when required to travel to Tokyo without the support of any of my family. I am a strong individual and I will persevere, but I never should’ve been left alone to suffer the abuse of Larry Nassar, and the only reason I did was because of the failures that lie at the heart of the abuse that you are now asked to investigate.
Simone Biles: (06:57)
Again, I appreciate the opportunity to share my thoughts with this committee today. I want to sincerely thank each of you for joining the survivors of this abuse to do what we all can to prevent anything like this from ever happening again. Thank you.
Chairman Dick Durbin: (07:13)
Thank you Ms. Biles. Ms. Maroney.
McKayla Maroney: (07:16)
Thanks Simone, that was very powerful.
Chairman Dick Durbin: (07:19)
You have to push the button on your microphone. Slide.
McKayla Maroney: (07:25)
Are we on?
Chairman Dick Durbin: (07:25)
There we go.
McKayla Maroney: (07:26)
All right. Good morning. Thank you Chairman Durbin, Ranking Member Grassley and members of the Judiciary Committee for inviting me to speak today. As most of you are probably aware, I was molested by the US Gymnastics National Team and Olympic Team Doctor Larry Nassar. In actuality, he turned out to be more of a pedophile than he was a doctor. What I’m trying to bring to your attention today is something incredibly disturbing and illegal. After telling my entire story of abuse to the FBI in the summer of 2015, not only did the FBI not report my abuse but when they eventually documented my report, 17 months later, they made entirely false claims about what I said. After reading the Office of Inspector General’s OIG report, I was shocked and deeply disappointed at this narrative they chose to fabricate. They chose to lie about what I said and protect a serial child molester rather than protect not only me but countless others.
McKayla Maroney: (08:28)
My story is one in which special agent in charge, Jay Abbott, and his subordinates did not want you to hear and it’s time that I tell you. In the summer of 2015, like I said, I was scheduled to speak to the FBI about my abuse with Larry Nassar over the phone. I was too sick to go meet with anyone in person and talking about this abuse would give me PTSD for days. But I chose to speak about it to try and make a difference and protect others. I remember sitting on my bedroom floor for nearly three hours as I told them what happened to me. I hadn’t even told my own mother about these facts but I thought as uncomfortable and as hard as it was to tell my story, I was going to make a difference and hopefully protecting others from the same abuse. I answered all of their questions honestly and clearly and I disclosed all of my molestations I had endured by Nassar to them in extreme detail.
McKayla Maroney: (09:27)
They told me to start from the beginning. I told them about the sport of gymnastics, how you make the national team, and how I came to meet Larry Nassar when I was 13 at a Texas camp. I told them that the first thing Larry Nassar ever said to me was to change into shorts with no underwear because that would make it easier for him to work on me. And within minutes, he had his fingers in my vagina. The FBI then immediately asked, “Did he insert his fingers into your rectum?” I said, “No, he never did.” They asked if he used gloves. I said, “No, he never did.” They asked if this treatment ever helped me. I said, “No, it never did. This treatment was 100% abuse and never gave me any relief.”
McKayla Maroney: (10:13)
I then told the FBI about Tokyo, the day he gave me a sleeping pill for the plane ride to then work on me later that night. That evening I was naked, completely alone with him on top of me molesting me for hours. I told them I thought I was going to die that night because there was no way that he would let me go. But he did. I told them I walked the halls of Tokyo hotel at 2:00 AM, at only 15 years old. I began crying at the memory over the phone and there was just dead silence. I was so shocked at the agent’s silence and disregard from my trauma. After that minute of silence, he asked, “Is that all?” Those words in itself was one of the worst moments of this entire process for me. To have my abuse be minimized and disregarded by the people who were supposed to protect me, just to feel like my abuse was not enough.
McKayla Maroney: (11:10)
But the truth is my abuse was enough and they wanted to cover it up. USA Gymnastics in concert with the FBI and the Olympic Committee were working together to conceal that Larry Nassar was a predator. I then proceeded to tell them about London and how he’d signed me up last on his sheet so he could molest me for hours twice a day. I told them how he molested me right before I won my team gold medal, how he gave me presents, bought me caramel macchiatos and bread when I was hungry. I even sent them screenshots of Nassar’s last text to me, which was, “McKayla, I love how you see the world with rose-colored glasses. I hope you continue to do so.” This was very clear cookie cutter pedophilia and abuse. And this is important because I told the FBI all of this and they chose to falsify my report and to not only minimize my abuse but silence me yet again.
McKayla Maroney: (12:09)
I thought given the severity of this situation, that they would act quickly for the sake of protecting other girls. But instead, it took them 14 months to report anything when Larry Nassar, in my opinion, should have been in jail that day. The FBI, USOC and USAG sat idly by as dozens of girls and women continued to be molested by Larry Nassar. According to the OIG report, about 14 months after I disclosed my abuse to the FBI, nearly a year and a half later, the FBI agent who interviewed me in 2015 decided to write down my statement, a statement that the OIG report determined to be materially false.
McKayla Maroney: (12:51)
Let’s be honest. By not taking immediate action from my report, they allowed a child molester to go free for more than a year. And this inaction directly allowed Nassar’s abuse to continue. 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? They had legal, legitimate evidence of child abuse and did nothing. If they’re not going to protect me, I want to know, who are they trying to protect? What’s even more upsetting to me is that we know that these FBI agents have committed an obvious crime. They falsified my statement and that is illegal in itself, yet no recourse has been taken against them. The Department of Justice refuse to prosecute these individuals. Why?
McKayla Maroney: (13:49)
Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco couldn’t even bring herself to be here today and it is the Department of Justice’s job to hold them accountable. I am tired of waiting for people to do the right thing because my abuse was enough and we deserve justice. These individuals clearly violated policies and were negligent in executing their duties and in doing so, more girls were abused by Larry Nassar for over a year.
McKayla Maroney: (14:20)
To not indict these agents is a disservice to me and my teammates. It is a disservice to the system which was built to protect all of us from abuse. It was a disservice to every victim who suffered needlessly at the hands of Larry Nassar after I spoke up. Why are public servants, whose job is to protect, getting away with this? This is not justice. Enough is enough. Today, I ask you all to hear my voice. I ask you, please do all that is in your power to ensure that these individuals are held responsible and accountable for ignoring my initial report, for lying about my initial report, and for covering up for a child molester.
McKayla Maroney: (15:01)
In closing, I would like to express my deep gratitude to the United States Senate, a very powerful institution that from the very beginning has fought for us rather than against us. Thank you, and I welcome any questions.
Chairman Dick Durbin: (15:17)
Thank you Ms. Maroney. Ms. Nichols.
Maggie Nichols: (15:23)
Chairman Durbin, Ranking Member Grassley and distinguished members of the Judiciary Committee, thank you for inviting me to speak to you today and I want to personally thank you for your commitments to prioritizing athlete safety and holding accountable those responsible for athlete safety. I was named as Gymnast 2 in the office of Inspector General’s report and previously identified as Athlete A by USA Gymnastics. I want everyone to know that this did not happen to Gymnast 2 or to Athlete A, it happened to me, Maggie Nichols.
Maggie Nichols: (15:52)
I first started gymnastics when I was three and since I was a child, I always had a dream of competing for my country in the World Championships and Olympic games. I was an elite level gymnast by the age of 13 and by the time I was 14, I made the national team. I traveled internationally for four years attending competitions and in 2015 at the World Championships representing our country where I won a gold medal. My Olympic dreams ended in the summer of 2015 when my coach and I reported Larry Nassar’s abuse to USAG leadership. I went on to compete at the University of Oklahoma where I was named first team all American in the all round and all four events and was an eight time national champion. I reported my abuse to USA Gymnastics over six years ago, and still my family and I received few answers and have even more questions about how this was allowed to occur and why dozens of other little girls and women at Michigan state had to be abused after I reported. In sacrificing my childhood for the chance to compete for the United States, I am haunted by the fact that even after I reported my abuse, so many women and girls had to suffer at the hands of Larry Nassar. USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic & Paralympic committee and the FBI have all betrayed me and those who were abused by Larry Nassar after I reported.
Maggie Nichols: (17:11)
The cover up of my abuse and the FBI’s failure to interview me for more than a year after my complaint are well documented in the OIG report. After I reported my abuse to USA Gymnastics, my family and I were told by their former president, Steve Penny, to keep quiet and not say anything that could hurt the FBI investigation. We now know there was no real FBI investigation occurring. While my complaints were with the FBI, Larry Nassar continued to abuse women and girls. During this time, the FBI issued no search warrants and made no arrests. From the day I reported my molestation by Nassar, I was treated differently by USAG. Not only did the FBI fail to conduct a thorough investigation, but they also knew that USAG and the USOPC created a false narrative where Larry Nassar was allowed to retire with his reputation intact and returned to Michigan State University, thus allowing dozens of little girls to be molested.
Maggie Nichols: (18:10)
As the Inspector General’s report details during this time period, FBI agents did not properly document evidence, failed to report proper authorities, and the special agent in charge was seeking to become the new director of security for the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee, a job opportunity raised by Steve Penny. Afterwards, FBI agents in charge of the investigation lied to OIG investigators about what had happened. This conduct by these FBI agents, including the special agent in charge, who are held in high regard and expected to protect the public, is unacceptable, disgusting, and shameful.
Maggie Nichols: (18:49)
This committee produced a report in 2019 titled The Courage of Survivors: A Call to Action. It found that the US Olympic Committee and USAG and the national governing body designated by USOC and administer amateur gymnastics failed to adequately respond to credible allegations against Nassar. Similarly, the OIG report found that senior FBI officials lied to the Inspector General, engaged in serious conflicts of interest, and tried to cover up one of the biggest child sexual abuse scandals in the history of amateur sports. Both reports uncovered serious and possibly criminal misconduct by those at the highest level of the Olympic Committee, our sport and the FBI.
Maggie Nichols: (19:35)
Despite these findings of serious and criminal misconduct throughout the FBI, USAG and USOPC, no accountability has occurred. An important question remains, perhaps the most important question, why? Why would the FBI agents lie to OIG investigators? Why would the FBI not properly document evidence that was received? Why would the FBI agent be interested in the USAG presidency? These questions remain unanswered and the survivors of Larry Nassar have a right to know why their wellbeing was placed in the jeopardy by these individuals who chose not to do their jobs. To date, no one from the FBI, the USOPC or USAG has faced federal charges other than Larry Nassar. For many hundreds of survivors of Larry Nassar, this hearing is one of our last opportunities to get justice. We ask that you do what is in your power to ensure those that engaged in wrong doing are held accountable under the law.
Chairman Dick Durbin: (20:36)
Thank you, Ms. Nichols. Ms. Raisman.
Aly Raisman: (20:51)
I want to begin by thanking the Judiciary Committee, including Chairman Durbin and Ranking Member Grassley for their commitment to seeking the truth for the hundreds if not thousands who are systematically abused…
Aly Raisman: (21:03)
… hundreds, if not thousands who were systematically abused by Larry Nassar, and for this committee’s diligence to demand accountability regarding federal law enforcement’s misconduct.
Aly Raisman: (21:14)
I also want to express my gratitude to the other brave survivors here today, my friends and my teammates, for sharing their stories and continuing to press for justice and reform.
Aly Raisman: (21:29)
Over the past few years it has become painfully clear how a survivor’s healing is affected by the handling of their abuse. And it disgusts me that we are still fighting for the most basic answers and accountability over six years later.
Aly Raisman: (21:53)
In 2015, it was known that at least six national team athletes had been abused by Nassar. There was even one of the athletes that was abused on film. Given our abuser’s unfettered access to children, stopping him should have been a priority. Instead, the following occurred, the FBI failed to interview pertinent parties in a timely manner, it took over 14 months for the FBI to contact me despite my many requests to be interviewed by them. The records established that Steve Penny, FBI agent Jay Abbott, and their subordinates worked to conceal Nassar’s crimes. Steve Penny arranged with the FBI to conduct my interview at the Olympic Training Center, where I was under the control and observation of USA Gymnastics, and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee. The day of my interview, Steve Penny flew to the Olympic Training Center and he made sure I was aware he was there.
Aly Raisman: (23:04)
I felt pressured by the FBI to consent to Nassar’s plea deal. The agent diminished the significance of my abuse, and made me feel my criminal case wasn’t worth pursuing. The special agent in charge of investigating Nassar met Steve Penny for beers to discuss job opportunities in the Olympic movement. Another FBI agent worked with Steve Penny to determine jurisdiction without interviewing the survivors.
Aly Raisman: (23:35)
I’ve watched multiple high ranking officials at USAG, USOPC, and FBI resign or retire without explanation of how they may have contributed to the problem, some of whom were publicly thanked for their service and rewarded with severance or bonus money.
Aly Raisman: (23:55)
My reports of abuse were not only buried by USAG, USOPC, but they were also mishandled by federal law enforcement officers who failed to follow their most basic duties. The FBI and others within both USAG and USOPC knew that Nassar molested children and did nothing to restrict his access. Steve Penny and any USAG employee could have walked a few steps to file a report with the Indiana Child Protective Services, since they shared the same building.
Aly Raisman: (24:31)
Instead they quietly allowed Nassar to slip out the side door, knowingly allowing him to continue his work at MSU, Sparrow Hospital, a USAG club, and even run for school board. Nassar found more than 100 new victims to molest, it was like serving innocent children up to a pedophile on a silver platter. Why did none of these organizations warn anyone? USAG and USOPC have a long history of enabling abuse by turning a blind eye. Both organizations knew of Nassar’s abuse long before it became public, although you wouldn’t know that by reading their press releases, which would have you and their corporate sponsors believe that athlete’s safety comes first. We have called for a fully independent, factual investigation for years now. Because I, and these women who sit before you know firsthand these organizations and their public statements are not to be trusted. They claim they want accountability, but then seek to restrict which staff can be interviewed, which documents can be examined, and claim attorney-client privilege over and over again. The so-called investigations these organizations orchestrated were not designed to provide the answers we so critically need.
Aly Raisman: (26:07)
Why are we left to guess while USAG and USOPC deliberately ignored reported abuse? Was it to protect the value of the sponsorships? The LA28 bid? Their own jobs? To avoid criminal liability? Perhaps, but why must we speculate when the facts are obtainable and the stakes are so high? Why would duly sworn federal law enforcement officers ignore reports of abuse by a doctor across state lines and country borders? For a future job opportunity? Or were there additional incentives and pressures? Why must we speculate when the facts are obtainable and the stakes are so high?
Aly Raisman: (27:03)
Just as it is naive to assume the problem only rests with Nassar, it is unrealistic to think we can grasp the full extent of culpability without understanding how and why USAG and USOPC chose to ignore abuse for decades, and why the interplay among these three organizations led the FBI to willingly disregard our reports of abuse. Without knowing who knew what, when we cannot identify all enablers or determine whether they are still in positions of power.
Aly Raisman: (27:43)
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. If we don’t do all we can to get these facts, the problems we are here to address will persist, and we are deluding ourselves if we think other children can be spared the institutionalized tolerance and normalization of abuse that I, and so many others had to endure.
Aly Raisman: (28:16)
I thank you for your time, your commitment, and your genuine concern for those survivors who relied on the FBI to do the right thing. I welcome any questions and comments, and I will answer them to the best of my ability. Thank you.
Chairman Dick Durbin: (28:31)
Thank you, Ms. Raisman. I’ve been in a lot of committee hearings, I can’t remember compelling testimony like we’ve heard this morning ever before, because you had the courage to come up and tell the world what happened to you. It is heartbreaking to think what you have been through.
Chairman Dick Durbin: (28:53)
I thank you for being here. We have a job to do, and we know it. It begins with this hearing, the accountability of the FBI and the Department of Justice, and all of law enforcement when it comes to abuse cases such as those that you have endured personally.
Chairman Dick Durbin: (29:09)
But there’s an historic element here in that your audience includes young people like yourself who are victims and survivors themselves. I have one minute in question, and my question basically to the panel, anyone who cares to respond, what would you say to other young athletes who may be suffering in silence or wrestling with the decision about whether to speak out? Ms. Raisman?
Aly Raisman: (29:38)
The first thing that I would want to say to anybody that’s watching this that’s suffering in silence or has been through something really traumatic is that I support them, I believe them, and just be patient with yourself, be kind to yourself, know that I’m struggling too, I’m still navigating how to heal from this. And healing is a roller coaster. There are some days I feel better, some days I feel like I’m taking a bunch of steps backwards, and that’s okay. We’re all human, we’re all doing the best that we can.
Aly Raisman: (30:16)
But I would encourage whoever is out there that’s listening to tell someone whenever they feel comfortable. And it’s so important to have a good support system and a community around you. And if you’re someone out there that doesn’t have a good support system, that’s okay. Sometimes it can take some time to find a good support system, so I encourage you to not give up until you find that support that you deserve. And just remember that I believe you, I support you, you are not alone, and I encourage you to ask for help.
Chairman Dick Durbin: (30:47)
Anyone else on the panel?
McKayla Maroney: (30:49)
Yeah, I would just want to say that they need to know that their abuse is enough. I think for so long all of us questioned just because somebody else wasn’t fully validating us, that we doubted what happened to us. And that is always going to make the healing process take longer.
McKayla Maroney: (31:07)
I think the second that I gave that to myself is when I really began to heal, and when I really began to get my voice back, and that took a long time. And I think to reach out to other survivors and to speak to them and hear their stories is what continues to help me heal, and hearing all these girls speak is really what continues to make me want to be here today and help others.
Chairman Dick Durbin: (31:31)
And you are.
McKayla Maroney: (31:33)
Chairman Dick Durbin: (31:33)
Mr. Grassley: (31:35)
Before I asked my first question, in regard to something that Ms. Raisman raised, we have not forgotten why these people haven’t been prosecuted. So I want to put in the record a letter that I wrote the attorney general on July 16th to request that the Justice Department revisit its decision not to prosecute the FBI employees who failed all of you and a lot of you that aren’t here as well.
Speaker 1: (32:07)
Mr. Grassley: (32:07)
Okay, thank you very much.
Mr. Grassley: (32:11)
First of all, it’s not enough just to commend you for your bravery of speaking out, but by you’re speaking out, you’re helping not only young women, but wherever there might be the abuse that you talk about, and it’s very difficult I’m sure in this public setting for you to speak that, and we felt that from you speaking out about it; it’s got to be a hard job, but thank you for coming forward.
Mr. Grassley: (32:49)
So I’m going to ask questions of any one of you, or all of you, you decide how you want to respond to this, but I hope at least one person would speak up.
Mr. Grassley: (32:59)
What can you tell Congress and the government witnesses testifying here today about the additional steps, if any, that we should take to ensure that we better protect child athletes? And we heard from all of you about the agents and the FBI not doing its job, or even lying to us, and you heard about a bill that I am proposing. But beyond those things, do you have anything you’d like to add that Congress should hear from you to protect child athletes?
Aly Raisman: (33:35)
I think it’s really important to look at the connection between the FBI, USA Gymnastics, and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee. And we cannot believe that there’s a safer future for children unless we fully understand every single thing that happened.
Aly Raisman: (33:53)
And USA Gymnastics does say that they’ve done investigations, but those were not completely independent in the scope of the investigation matters. Nobody should be off limits, nothing should be off limits, it should go back decades. And that has not been done. And it’s been something that we’ve been asking for for years and years.
Aly Raisman: (34:12)
And so I personally would like to see all three organizations completely investigated. And the scope of it matters because until we know all the facts, it’s just guesswork. And I hope you guys feel the same way as I do, that if we’re thinking about children going into gymnastics or sports, I don’t want to be guessing that they’re going to be okay. I want to know with 100% certainty that somebody that looked the other way for us, isn’t still in a position of power. And so I think the investigation is crucial. And until that I don’t have any faith that things will get better in the sport.
Mr. Grassley: (34:54)
Okay. If no one else wants to go beyond that, I’ll go to my last question. I hope this isn’t something so sensitive you don’t feel you can talk about it, but do you have any thoughts or inputs to share about SafeSport, the national nonprofit entity that has been tasked by Congress with handling allegations from amateur athletes?
Aly Raisman: (35:23)
Yeah, I personally think SafeSport is… I’m trying to be respectful here. I don’t like SafeSport. I hear from many survivors that they report their abuse and it’s like playing hot potato, where someone else kicks it over to somebody else. And they don’t hear back for a really long time.
Aly Raisman: (35:43)
I think a really big issue is that SafeSport is funded by USA Gymnastics, or the United States Olympic Committee. I’m not sure exactly what the correct terminology is, but if you’re SafeSport and you are funded by the organization you’re investigating, they’re likely not going to do the right thing.
Aly Raisman: (36:02)
And so I think that it needs to be completely separate. And I personally think SafeSport needs a lot of work. And I know from many survivors, and my mom has personally reported things to SafeSport, and we’ve followed up so many times, they say, “We can’t help you,” or they either ignore us, or pass it on to somebody else. And the person they pass it on to says… They kick it back to them. It’s just a complete mess. And the priority doesn’t seem to be safety and wellbeing of athletes, it seems to be protecting USA Gymnastics and doing everything to keep the PR good.
McKayla Maroney: (36:39)
Yeah, I agree. Nobody really wants to be held accountable, and nobody really knows who to hold accountable. So I think in order to help, there needs to be a specific person who is in charge of protecting these athletes, and it falls on them when they’re not. And instead of it being passed around and everyone just being like, “Oh, we don’t know what happened, whose job was that?” There needs to be a specific job for that.
Chairman Dick Durbin: (37:09)
Thank you. Now, call on Senator Leahy, and remind my colleagues we’re trying to make this question period concise, so please do your best.
Mr. Leahy: (37:21)
I want to thank you all for having the courage to come here today. I can only imagine how painful it is to relive these experiences, but I think that the resilience, the perseverance you’re showing the world today is incredibly admirable. And I hope that a young survivors who see this, who feel powerless to tell their stories will feel, yes, as an example they should tell it.
Mr. Leahy: (38:02)
But I think it has to be far more than just telling the stories. I mean, obviously like Senator Durbin, I’ve been on this committee for a long time, and I cannot think of anything so moving. And we’re going to hear senators and others talk about accountability and justice today, but what does genuine accountability look like to you?
Mr. Leahy: (38:28)
When do you feel justice will be done for the injustices you suffered? That really should be the question we have today. And I’d like to hear from all of you on that. When do you feel justice will be done? And what does genuine accountability look like?
Speaker 2: (38:50)
Do you want to try that one?
Aly Raisman: (38:52)
Yeah, sure. Well, first going back to, I probably sound like a broken record, but I’m going to try, hopefully today will be the one that this time I say it, it actually happens. But for me, accountability looks like, first of all I think that obviously this should have never happened. One time being abused is too many, one child being abused as too many, but I think a complete and full independent investigation of the FBI, USA Gymnastics, and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee. And then from there, then we will know the answers of who should be held accountable.
Aly Raisman: (39:33)
I also think that there needs to be, when we think about a new USA Gymnastics, or a new United States Olympic and Paralympic committee, survivors need to be in the room, we need to feel like we are not adversaries to USA Gymnastics, and we need to feel like our voices matter, that they care, that they want to actually be a part of the change that we so desperately want.
Aly Raisman: (39:59)
I think that it’s… I’m not trying to speak for them, but I imagine we all feel that it’s just crazy for me to try to wrap my head around, all we are asking for is that when a child goes into gymnastics, or goes to school, or does anything that they can be spared abuse.
Aly Raisman: (40:16)
And the fact that we’ve been treated like adversaries by so many organizations and our abuse has been diminished, we’ve been victim-shamed online over and over again, we’ve been gaslit, we’ve been made to feel that we don’t matter by these organizations, and I never want another child to feel that way again. And McKayla Maroney mentioned this, so often survivors already question themselves, they distrust how they feel. And that is something that I went through, and especially because the FBI made me feel like my abuse didn’t count and it wasn’t a big deal.
Aly Raisman: (40:55)
And I remember sitting there with the FBI agent and him trying to convince me that it wasn’t that bad. And it’s taken me years of therapy to realize that my abuse was bad, that it does matter. And so I think it’s really important to also have education and prevention in the sport as well.
Aly Raisman: (41:17)
I don’t see these organizations doing enough to have every single staff member, every single athlete, every single parent, guardian, every single person that walks into a gym I believe should be educated to prevent and recognize emotional, physical, sexual, mental abuse, everything in between. Because if we don’t have an investigation, and we don’t have education and prevention, then this problem and this nightmare is going to keep happening over and over again.
Mr. Leahy: (41:45)
Anybody else care to… Or should I assume that you all agree with that, right?
Speaker 3: (41:52)
Mr. Leahy: (41:53)
So do I. Thank you very, very much.
Chairman Dick Durbin: (41:54)
Thank you Senator Leahy. Senator [Cardin 00:41:57]?
Speaker 2: (41:58)
Senator Cardin: (41:59)
Thank you Mr. Chairman, I just want to say-
Speaker 2: (42:01)
Senator Cornyn: (42:01)
Chairman, I just want to say-
Simone Biles: (42:06)
Sorry, just one more to add. We also want to see him at least be federally prosecuted to the fullest extent because they need to be held accountable.
Speaker 4: (42:18)
Thank you. As a former prosecutor, I agree with that. Thank you.
Chairman Durbin: (42:23)
Senator Cornyn: (42:24)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I too want to thank these four survivors who are joining us today, and I want to tell you how much I respect and admire your courage and for sounding the alarm on a system that has abused and neglected you, but which was supposed to protect you. Your stories are difficult for you to tell, I know, but it’s extraordinarily important for us to hear it, as hard as it is for you and for us to hear, because I believe that your courage will inspire a generation of women to speak out against those who’ve abused them. And I want you to know, we all want you to know, we’re very proud of your courage and the example that you set for other young women.
Senator Cornyn: (43:16)
And I sincerely hope that your courage in speaking out will be a step toward righting the wrongs that have led to these injustices so we can ensure that these mistakes will never, ever be repeated. So thank you for shining a light on this issue and for advocating for victims across the country. As you know, you are not alone. Because too often those allegations are downplayed, slow, walked, or ignored, so now our job is to make sure that your sacrifices, your trauma, and your nightmare have not been in vain. Thank you.
Chairman Durbin: (44:06)
Thanks, Senator Cornyn. Senator Feinstein.
Senator Feinstein: (44:10)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And for me, this was a deja vu. I listened to these young women. I saw their courage, I saw their willingness to step forward, and I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to take some action. I would like to present a letter sent to the Chief Executive Officer of the United States Senate for Safe Sport, which has eight specific things. This is on behalf of Senator Murray and myself. So if I may put that in.
Chairman Durbin: (44:48)
Senator Feinstein: (44:52)
I really hope that no one ever goes through the horrors that you have experienced. And I hope that when, and I believe we will, take action that this is enough for you to put this behind you in your life and that you could lead a life that it’s just as full and happy as is possible and that we do our job and see that we prevent this from ever happening again. So I just want to thank you so much. I’ve had the occasion to sit down with you, at least two of you, around my conference table and see the tears. And those days are now behind. And I’m convinced that this Senate will act, and I thank you so much because you have played a big role if and when we do in making it happen. Thanks Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Durbin: (45:56)
Thanks, Senator Feinstein. Senator Cruz.
Senator Cruz: (46:00)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to thank each of you for being here. Being here this morning was not easy. Each of you inspire millions across the globe. Millions look to your athletic achievements. You have all stood on the biggest stages in the world and done extraordinary things, things that take your breath away, that amaze children and adults. And you were able to do that through tens of thousands of hours of incredible hard work. And yet that work pales compared to the courage it took to come here today and to tell your story publicly. You could have stayed silent. You could have avoided the scrutiny, the pain, and I will say, watching you testify this morning, you could see the pain in each of you sharing that story. But that courage that you’ve demonstrated by going public, by reporting this abuse, by shining a light, that courage matters, and it’s making a difference in the lives of others.
Senator Cruz: (47:15)
The system failed you. What happened to you was grotesque. It was criminal. It was abusive. It was evil. I’m the father of two little girls who are both athletes, not at the level of each of you, but what you experienced is every parent’s nightmare, that when your child, when you entrust your child to coaches or doctors or trainers, you’re trusting that your kids will be taken care of, not that they will be abused and targeted. And so I want to thank you. I want to thank you for calling out the abuse, calling out the system that failed you, and that system needs to change. That system needs to be held accountable so that this doesn’t happen again. I want to thank you for the kids that won’t face abuse because of your courage. And each of you, Aly, Maggie, McKayla, Simone, and I’ll say Simone, you’re a Texan and a Houstonian, the entire state of Texas is immensely proud of you, and proud of all of you.
Senator Cruz: (48:24)
And I’ve got to say, right now at home there’s a little girl or a little boy who’s watching this who may be facing their own personal hell, maybe facing abuse, whether in sports, in some other context, a monster who is doing unspeakable things to them, and that little girl, that little boy, I hope sees your courage and realizes that she can come forward and say something too, that he can call out the person who is hurting them. So thank you for your courage. It makes an enormous difference.
Chairman Durbin: (49:04)
Thanks, Senator Cruz. Senator Whitehouse.
Senator Klobuchar: (49:07)
Thank you, Chairman Durban. I want to first thank our colleague, Senator Blumenthal, who has been so persistent in this for so long, and thank you and the Ranking Member Senator Grassley for holding this hearing. I want to compliment all of our witnesses for the stunning clarity and grace of your testimony here. Your quest for accountability is 100% justified, and thank you for pursuing it. We will endeavor to help you in that pursuit. It is astonishing and disturbing how many adults let you down and failed at one of the most basic responsibilities of adulthood, which is to look out for children, take care of them, behave properly, and hear and trust them. So I guess on behalf of adults everywhere, we owe you an apology. But what you’ve done today is impressive and it will make a difference and I’m grateful to you for stepping up the way you have.
Chairman Durbin: (50:29)
Thank you, Senator Whitehouse. Senator Hawley is on via WebEx, and you’ll see them on the screen momentarily, I hope. Senator Hawley. [inaudible 00:50:44]. Well, perhaps Senator Cotton is on virtually. We’re going to search the ether. Senator Cotton? Well, in their absence, Senator Klobuchar.
Senator Klobuchar: (51:05)
Excellent. Thank you very much, all of you, and like my colleagues, I want to express my gratitude to you. As a fellow Minnesota, I am particularly grateful to you, Maggie, for sharing your story with the Committee today. All of you and the other women and girls who make up the gymnastics community continue to inspire us. I was one of the geeks that was up at 4:00 a.m. watching this live, watching the Olympics live this time, and to think when you fall off the balance beams and you get back on or you grab those bars when you still have an injury or you perform some floor exercise that no one knows was possible, to all of us that are watching, to us, that is the courage, something we could never imagine doing. But the real courage is what you’re doing today. Your bravery is on full display.
Senator Klobuchar: (52:06)
And as a former prosecutor, like some of my colleagues, I know firsthand, I’ve seen it, how hard it is to testify before a room of strangers. And this time you’re doing it in front of the U.S. Senate. And what you’re doing is, of course, part of your own healing, but it’s also part of healing for kids you’re never going to meet, little girls and boys that maybe are aware of your fame and what you’ve done. They may not ever be aware of what you are doing today. And I think you have heard it from so many of my colleagues that have been leading on these bills and I’ve been proud to co-sponsor them. But more must be done, more oversight, more accountability. By coming forward today, you are going to make that difference so we can make sure on your behalf that this never happens again. Thank you, Simone, McKayla, Maggie and Aly for representing the women and girls of USA Gymnastics so well on the world stage, but most importantly, so well today. Thank you.
Chairman Durbin: (53:17)
Thanks, Senator Klobuchar. we’re going to try one more time with Senator Cotton. Are you with us?
Senator Cotton: (53:22)
Yes, I’m here, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Durbin: (53:23)
Senator Cotton: (53:25)
Thank you. I want to also take a moment to thank each of the witnesses who are appearing this morning. The four of you have done remarkable things in your lives. You’ve been patriotic competitors, dedicated athletes, good role models, and you’ve represented the United States of America expertly on the global stage, but perhaps even more impressive is the courage that each of you has displayed in coming forward about the abuse you faced. And in doing so, you weren’t just taking on one terrible abuser, potentially facing down an entire system. This isn’t the first time that we’ve had hearings on this issue. In 2017 and 2018, for example, the Senate heard from others who had faced similar abuse, including Jordan Weaver, who was a teammate to several of you and is now the head coach of University of Arkansas Gymnastics, and of whom were also extremely proud.
Senator Cotton: (54:17)
Unfortunately, for too long, the system failed the very women that it was supposed to protect. The report by Inspector General Horowitz makes clear that there are individuals whose inaction and incompetence and, worse, enabled that system and who should be held accountable. So I look forward to hearing from Director Wray and the Inspector General about how that will be remedied. And I, once again, thank each of you for coming before the Committee and sharing your stories today.
Chairman Durbin: (54:44)
Thank you, Senator Cotton. Senator Coons.
Senator Coons: (54:47)
Thank you. Chairman Durbin, Ranking Member Grassley, thank you for holding this hearing. Each of you are adults now. You are grown women. You’ve demonstrated your strength, your determination, your persistence in testifying here today. But as we all know, in terrible detail, you were victimized as young girls and we have failed you. The United States Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics, those in federal law enforcement who were responsible for taking your horrible testimony and translating it into prompt and decisive action to protect other children and to secure justice for you. Thank you for the courage it takes to testify and to insist on justice. Thank you to Senator Blumenthal and Senator Moran for your persistent and effective engagement in this. We will next turn to hearing the Director of the FBI and the Inspector General about what has been found by the Inspector General and what action will be taken next.
Senator Coons: (55:57)
I just want to briefly share with you one of the most concerning parts of what you shared with us today was about your initial interviews with the FBI, where it was conducted, how it was conducted, that you were left alone as a teenage girl to have an interview by phone with an FBI agent who somehow suggested what you were testifying to wasn’t horrific or tried to persuade you that it wasn’t that bad or under a circumstance that made it clear to you that the person responsible for USA Gymnastics might be present and might have somehow compromised that interview. The whole way in which all of your interviews were conducted was just awful. Now, sadly, that’s been the experience for millions of victims of child sexual abuse over decades in the United States. And the positive thing I just wanted to share with you today is that for years now, there has been a national network of child advocacy centers.
Senator Coons: (56:59)
There’s one in each county in my state, which brings together trauma informed, child welfare professionals and law enforcement to make sure that victims are only interviewed once, that they’re interviewed in appropriate settings, that they’re interviewed in a way that respects and recognizes the trauma and the abuse they’ve suffered, and that ensures that your horrible experiences in terms of those initial interviews, and it’s been compounded by your having to testify and speak again and again. We are working on that system, Senator Blunt and I will soon re-introduce a bill that will re-authorize this and double the funding for it. There’s now a national network of 880 of these child advocacy centers all over the country. So I just wanted to share with you and with any victim of abuse or the families who know about their child’s abuse who might be watching that what happened to you should not and need not happen again.
Senator Coons: (58:04)
There are professional, trauma informed, child welfare centered opportunities around the country to seek justice. And Ms. Maroney, I can see what I’ve just said has particularly impacted you. Thank you all four of you for your courage, your persistence, and your demands for justice. Thank you.
Chairman Durbin: (58:25)
Thanks, Senator Coons. I believe Senator Blumenthal will be next.
Senator Blumenthal: (58:32)
Thanks, Mr. Chairman. My thanks again. You are really heroes and stars and role models for many young men and women around the country, and your courage obviously is impressive to all of us on this Committee, but so is your grace and daring, your athleticism, your grace and daring as people and your determination not to be defined by the abuse that you suffered and to seek help, which should be also a model to others. A number of you have made reference to the therapy that you have sought, which also takes courage. But you have been involved in a sport that often involves injuries, physical injuries, and the abuse you suffered involves emotional injuries that you are seeking to treat as you would any physical injury.
Senator Blumenthal: (59:41)
I would like to ask you. I know at least one of the athletes in the room was abused after July 2015. Let me just ask each of you, you can answer yes or no, whether you know of athletes that were abused by Larry Nassar after July 2015 during the 18 month period when the FBI did nothing. You can just say, “Yes, you do.” If you want to tell me how many, if you know. If not just yes or no. Miss Biles?
Simone Biles: (01:00:20)
McKayla Maroney: (01:00:25)
Yeah. Kaylee Lorincz is here today and she was abused after I spoke out.
Maggie Nichols: (01:00:32)
Aly Raisman: (01:00:37)
Yes. I’ve met many of them. And I also just want to be clear that in the time that I had reported my abuse to USA Gymnastics, I followed up many, many times. My mom would follow up for me a lot of the time, because I’m sure, as you can imagine, it was so hard for me but also I was so scared because of the positions of power. And we followed up so many times and we were constantly told that they were working on it. The most important thing was to keep it confidential, not to tell anyone. They even told me to not really to talk about it with McKayla Maroney and give her breathing room. And so I thought that it was being handled. And so I can’t express to you when you’re told by the President of USA Gymnastics at the time, Steve Penny, that they’re handling it, they got it. I didn’t know they were going to mishandle it and cover it up like they have.
Aly Raisman: (01:01:41)
And when they’re telling me they’re talking to FBI and they should be reaching out soon, I unfortunately believed them. And I can’t tell you how horrifying it is to meet young girls who look up to me, who watched me compete in the Olympics, and tell me that they went to see Nasser because of me and my teammates, because they wanted to see the Olympic doctor. And I guess in his office, Nasser’s office, he had some photos of us, and so they went to see him because they thought it was so cool to have the same doctor as us. And so that’s been one of the hardest and most devastating parts for me is so many survivors suffer with guilt and shame. And so it takes everything I have to work on not taking the blame for that because it’s horrific and it’s horrible to meet them. And to know that over 100 victims could have been spared the abuse. All we needed was adult to do the right thing.
Senator Cornyn: (01:02:49)
Chairman Durbin: (01:02:50)
Thanks Senator Blumenthal. Senator Hirono.
Senator Hirono: (01:02:56)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I join all of my colleagues in thanking each of you for coming forward and we know that there are young-
Senator Rono: (01:03:03)
… each of you for coming forward. And we know that there are young kids who look up to you as a fantastic athletes and gymnasts that you are, but as they get older, I hope that they realize the courage, that so many of us use that word courage, of you coming forward to tell us your stories and the experiences of horrific abuse that you suffered. I think all people who suffer abuse, it is really hard for them to even talk to anybody, to talk to anybody about it. And it was hard enough for you to report your abuse, to be very specific about what happened to you, but then to be shunted aside, to get the feeling that the people that you relied on to do their jobs, that they thought it was not a big deal. I think that compounds the horrific abuse that you experienced.
Senator Rono: (01:03:55)
So you’re right to demand better from the FBI, the USA Gymnasts, and others, including us in this hearing today. And to show people that reports of abuse should be taken seriously. And those who come forward as you did should be believed, period. So your courage in shining a light on a culture of complicity, exploitation, and abuse of power inspire others to come forward. And so, I acknowledge how much courage it took for you to report in the first place and to have to undergo that horrifying experiences once again to tell perfect strangers what happened to you and to not be taken seriously. And that is what we need to change. And you have to undergo therapy, but you know what? The main thing is that we should prevent these kinds of abuses from happening in the first place. And that is where, and of course, if it happens, we need to hold the people who abuse accountable. Thank you so much for coming forward.
Chairman Dick Durbin: (01:05:07)
Thanks, Senator Rono. We probably have another 10 or 15 minutes, and I don’t know if we need a break now or want to go straight through to the end. Anybody looking for a break?
Simone Biles: (01:05:22)
Chairman Dick Durbin: (01:05:22)
Simone Biles: (01:05:22)
Chairman Dick Durbin: (01:05:22)
Great. Senator Booker?
Senator Booker: (01:05:28)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to thank you as well for being here today. It took tremendous courage. I’m not sure how many people fully realize the burden on survivors in America to come forward and recall what happened to them. It is in a sense not just recalling the trauma and the violence and the pain, but it is as you all know, being forced to relive it. And for that, I’m deeply grateful that you would sit here in a room of strangers, in front of powerful people, and again, relive that trauma. And I also know you didn’t come here for our kind words or our proudness or our empathy. You came here for justice. You came here for action. You’ve heard words literally for years, and you’re still fighting. You’re fighting against a systemic problem in our country that isn’t just in sports.
Senator Booker: (01:06:33)
We’ve seen it from church institutions to the Boy Scouts. When you talk about pedophilia, all the way to sexual assault, we see it in diners, workplaces, factory floors. And you all, as athletes are doing something in a tradition that is to me, what has helped to call the conscience of our country forward and expand our moral imagination to stop injustices of other sorts. From people who endured outrageous realities like Billy Jean King, who used their platforms not to try to get into visual attention, but to try to change this nation and make it more just. And so I’m grateful that we are at a point where we have such bipartisan determination in this town. It’s not often enough, but here we have bipartisan determination of some of my most respected colleagues to deliver what you really came for, which is action. I say that to tell you also that we all know that the road to change, real change, systemic change, not just in sport, but in our culture, that seems to tolerate such a high level of this sort of violence, that that is going to take time.
Senator Booker: (01:07:59)
And there’s one saying that always rings in my head. That the only thing necessary for injustice to continue is for good people to do nothing. And you all have seen that firsthand. And so, I’ve heard you before be asked the question by media to even in this institution today, you ask the question, do you have any words for other survivors. I would like to simply ask the question of you to answer, to put the point and the light where it belongs. It shouldn’t take something directly happening to us to trigger our empathy and our action. And maybe I would like to know if you have any words for Americans who admits a country where this violence happens every single day. Is there something you’d like to say to us who all have to understand that we are playing a part in a culture that allows this to happen?
Aly Raisman: (01:09:11)
I would like to say that I personally don’t think that people realize how much experiencing a type of abuse is not something that one just suffers in the moment. It carries on with them sometimes for the rest of their lives. For example, being here today is taking everything I have. My main concern is I hope I have the energy even to just walk out of here. I don’t think people realize how much it affects us, how much the PTSD, how much the trauma impacts us. And for every survivor, it’s different. Healing looks different for every survivor. The aftermath looks very different. For me just to paint a picture, I used to train some days, seven hours a day when I was training for the Olympics and processing my abuse affected me so much. And it is still something I struggle with, that I can remember when I first shared my story publicly for a very, very long time, I didn’t even have the energy to stand up in the shower. I would have to sit on the floor and wash my hair because standing up was too exhausting for me. I couldn’t even go for a 10 minute walk outside, and this is someone, I’ve competed in two Olympic games.
Aly Raisman: (01:10:39)
And there are times where I feel like I forget what I’m saying. I feel like my mind isn’t working. I feel like I have no energy at all. I’m 27 years old. And my 80 year old grandfather has more energy than I do. And I’ve often wondered, am I ever going to feel better? And it has affected my health. In the last couple of years, I’ve had to be taken in an ambulance because I pass out and I’m so sick from just the trauma. And it might not even be after a hearing like this, it just hits me out of the blue. And so I think it’s important for people understand how much, even if we’re not crying, how much we are all struggling and how much survivors are suffering, because people often say, well, why did you just come forward now? Because it’s terrifying to come forward. The fear of not being believed, but also because it affects us so much. And sometimes it’s impossible just to say the words out loud. And so I just want people to know, and I’m sure for a lot of us, especially myself, like this might take me months to recover. And so, I just wanted to make that clear because I think it’s important for people to start recognizing you may never know what someone else is going through, but for people who have been through trauma, it’s really hard. And if someone’s watching this, that is feeling really tired, that is a survivor and doesn’t know why they’re having certain issues that are new, just know that you’re not alone. And I experience the same thing. And hopefully in time, we can feel better.
Chairman Dick Durbin: (01:12:23)
Thank you, Senator Booker. We believe Senator Blackburn is available by WebEx. Senator?
Senator Blackburn: (01:12:31)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And because of limited bandwidth, I will just do this by voice, but I want to say a thank you to each of the women for being there today and the power of their stories and their words. Three quick questions and-
Chairman Dick Durbin: (01:12:59)
Senator Blackburn. Can you hear us?
Senator Blackburn: (01:13:02)
Yes. I can hear you.
Chairman Dick Durbin: (01:13:04)
We missed your three questions.
Senator Blackburn: (01:13:07)
Yes. Three questions. Number one, what are the reforms that you would like to see take place? Number two, if you do not trust Safe Sport, then what we would like to know is who is a trustworthy, or is there an organization or an individual that has your trust to be the go-to? And the third thing, did the FBI ever offer you a female agent who could walk with you through this process?
Chairman Dick Durbin: (01:13:42)
Thank you, Senator Blackburn. I’m going to let the panel respond to you and we have two more members after you. Thank you.
McKayla Maroney: (01:13:53)
I never had a female agent alongside me. And I’m sorry that I’m not answering more questions. Like after telling that story, I’m exhausted.
Chairman Dick Durbin: (01:14:04)
Understood. Anyone else want to respond?
Simone Biles: (01:14:10)
There was a female agent in the room with me at the OTC in 2016, but most of it was fueled by a men just asking questions, but I honestly didn’t know what I was walking into. They just told me I had a meeting with the FBI. Didn’t tell me what it was about. I was just pulled in a random… It was kind of like a hotel room and they just started asking questions. I was never prompted.
Chairman Dick Durbin: (01:14:41)
All right. Senator Padilla?
Aly Raisman: (01:14:45)
I think I think I had a female agent in the room at the Olympic training center as well, but I’m not entirely sure.
Simone Biles: (01:14:55)
Well, I feel like we all have the same people.
Aly Raisman: (01:14:58)
But if I recall my direct communication was with a male FBI agent.
Simone Biles: (01:15:04)
Chairman Dick Durbin: (01:15:08)
Okay. Senator Padilla?
Senator Padilla: (01:15:12)
Good morning. I want to start by thanking Chairman Durban and all those who have made this hearing possible and to the panelists. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I admire and respect each one of you for choosing to participate today, for sharing your testimony with us. Clearly, today’s not easy. And I recognize that you each had the option of respectfully declining the invitation to be here, but you didn’t. And I hope that you understand that your presence here is not just so important to the members of this committee and to the Senate as a body, but also speaks volumes for the countless victims of abuse that are out there, listening or watching, or will listen or will watch. I appreciate the conversation about mental health that was prompted by the questions from Senator Booker.
Senator Padilla: (01:16:28)
My wife is a very active mental health advocate. And so she has trained me well to be cognizant of those issues and ask important and timely questions as well. And Ms. Biles, I hope you might have heard about some of our amplification of your courage from the most recent Olympics to take care of yourself first. It took a lot. It took a lot at that moment. Just going to offer a few comments. I think that most of the questions that I would raise have been raised by my colleagues, but I do also want to make it clear that Mr. Nasser’s criminal cases, while they’ve been closed, we cannot and will not ignore the missteps that enabled his rampant misconduct. The power structure that shielded him has no place in America, not today, not in our future.
Senator Padilla: (01:17:24)
And if we’re to achieve the highest ideals of our nation, right? We talk about fairness and equality so often, then we won’t just ask. Why we can not give up until we get the answers as to why this man was allowed to use his position of power to abuse for so long. We won’t just ask why we commit to getting the answers to why the initial investigation into these matters was bungled. And lastly, we commit ourselves to building a justice system that holds powerful people, learning from this particular case, but holds other powerful people accountable for their actions. So again, my main message to you is just thank you through your participation and what we will learn and what we will do. We hope to better protect future generations. Thank you.
Chairman Dick Durbin: (01:18:27)
Thank you, Senator. Senator [Asoff 01:18:34].
Senator Asoff: (01:18:34)
Thank you again to all of you for being here and being so direct with us and enduring this experience. I just want to assure you that I’ve listened and heard what you’re demanding and the burden shouldn’t be on you to see at there is not impunity in this case. Personnel at the FBI, Jay Abbott and his subordinates, Steve Penny, USA Gymnastics, the Olympic and Paralympic Committees. The burden is ours in the US Senate to see that there is a full investigation, that there is personal accountability and institutional accountability for abuse, enablement of abuse, neglectful and improper law enforcement conduct. And I think compelling evidence of potential obstruction of justice and official corruption in this case as well. So thank you again for your testimony. I’ll make sure that each of you and your families and representatives have contact information for me and for my office and continue to work with my colleagues to ensure that justice is done. Thank you.
Chairman Dick Durbin: (01:19:55)
Thank you, Senator Asoff. Ms. Biles, Ms. Maroney, Ms. Nichols, Ms. Raisman, thanks for your testimony today. It was historic and it’ll make a difference in the lives of many people who are witnessing it. You don’t have to wait for the judges to put numbers up on the board. You all were gold medalists today in the cause of justice. So thank you for joining us. You’re excused.
Simone Biles: (01:20:22)
Aly Raisman: (01:20:23)