Simone Biles added her name to the list of athletes who have accused disgraced USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar of sexual abuse.
The 20-year-old Olympic champion issued a statement on Monday, revealing that Nassar touched her inappropriately under the guise of medical treatment.
“Most of you know me as a happy, giggly, and energetic girl. But lately… I’ve felt a bit broken and the more I try to shut off the voice in my head the louder it screams,” she began in a post on social media. “I am not afraid to tell my story anymore.”
“I too am one of the many survivors that was sexually abused by Larry Nassar,” the five-time Olympic medalist revealed. Her teammates Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas had previously come forward to allege sexual abuse at the hands of Nassar, as has former gymnast McKayla Maroney.
Like her Team USA teammates, she described being given a “special” treatment behind closed doors. Biles did not elaborate further, but other accusers claimed Nassar put ungloved fingers inside them, telling them it was a form of medical therapy.
“For too long I’ve asked myself, ‘Was I too naive? Was it my fault?’ I now know the answer to those questions,” Biles continued. “No, I will not and should not carry the guilt that belongs to Larry Nassar, USAG, and others.”
Nassar was sentenced in December to 60 years in prison for possessing thousands of images of child pornography. Those charges emerged when Michigan State University launched a sexual assault investigation in August 2016 after former gymnast Rachael Denhollander accused him of abusing her as a teen.
In November, the disgraced team doctor pled guilty to seven counts of criminal sexual conduct; the sentencing phase of the case is set to begin on Tuesday.
Biles expressed her hope to compete in the summer games in 2020, but she must grapple with dark memories to achieve that goal.
“It is impossibly difficult to relive these experiences and it breaks my heart even more to think that as I work towards my dream of competing in Tokyo 2020, I will have to continually return to the same training facility where I was abused,” she said.
Still, with the support of her friends and teammates, the decorated gymnast said she will continue flourishing in the sport.
“I won’t let one man, and the others that enabled him, to steal my love and joy,” she said.
Biles mentioned that USA Gymnastics carries some of the “guilt” of Nassar’s actions, but former Olympic gymnast Maroney alleged that the organization tried to silence her when she spoke out about the doctor’s abuse.
Maroney filed a lawsuit in December claiming that USA Gymnastics forced her to sign a non-disclosure agreement in late 2016 as part of a financial settlement, which she needed to pay for psychological treatment.
Biles concluded her statement by demanding answers for herself and the several fellow athletes who have accused Nassar of abuse — demands that are seemingly directed at the organization.0comments
“We need to know why this was able to take place for so long and to so many of use. We need to make sure something like this never happens again,” she said. Biles also thanked fans for their support and asked for privacy.
Photo credit: Instagram / @simonebiles