Capitol Hill hears testimony from star gymnasts abused by Nassar; SNAP responds

Seven-time Olympic medal winner Simone Biles, alongside fellow gymnasts McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, and Maggie Nichols, shared heart-wrenching testimony in a Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington D.C.yesterday. We applaud these young women for having the courage to be public about their stories of abuse and we believe that more crimes will be prevented in the future thanks to their witness and bravery.

In a powerful tone, Simone Biles told the panel, “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.” Biles continued, fighting back tears as she said, “to be clear, I blame Larry Nassar, and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse.” Her former teammate, McKayla Maroney, spoke in anger as she described her 2015 interview with the FBI saying, “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.

We could not be more impressed by or grateful to these brave young women, who have given everything they have on the athletic platform and have now again poured their hearts out in public with testimony. We stand with them as a network supporting survivors, in unison with their desire to promote effective change. We believe that their example will help speed up that reform.

It is unacceptable that multiple investigations by Michigan State University, the US Olympic Committee, and the FBI failed innocent victims. To us, this mirrors the roadblocks that victims of clergy abuse have endured for decades, which is yet another example of institutions protecting their image and enabling predators at the expense of innocent children.

This case is the latest example of a sad reality – that sexual abuse against boys and girls is ongoing, right now, in institutions we trust. Even worse, it is perpetrated by those who hold positions of trust and authority. The testimony given by these remarkable athletes who suffered horrific abuse was powerful and, to members of our network, all too understandable. Survivors of clergy abuse have been fighting since the 1980s and are tired of waiting for action at a federal level. Canada, France, Ireland, and New Zealand have all instituted national investigations into crimes against children. It is long past time for the United States to follow suit, to listen to the voices of Biles, Maroney, and so many other survivors, and open a federal investigation into sex crimes against children.

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