Most of you know me as a happy, giggly and energetic girl,” champion gymnast Simone Biles begins her letter. “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.”
On Monday, in a statement posted to Twitter, 20-year-old Biles added her voice to the chorus of more than 140 gymnasts who have said they were sexually abused by former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, The Washington Post reports.
“Please believe me when I say it was a lot harder to first speak those words out loud than it is now to put them on paper. There are many reasons that I have been reluctant to share my story, but I know now it is not my fault,” the four-time Olympic gold medal winner said.
Biles joins several top-tier gymnasts who have accused Nassar of abuse, including Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney – all members the ‘Fierce Five’ American gymnastic team, which included Biles, that dominated in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“For too long I’ve asked myself, ‘was I too naive? Was it my fault?‘ I now know the answer to those questions,” Biles posted to Twitter, echoing the confusion and misplaced self-blame felt by countless other victims. Her caption to the statement is a simple “#MeToo“.
“No. No, it was not my fault. No, I will not and should not carry the guilt that belongs to Larry Nassar, USA Gymnastics, and others,” she said.
Nassar was sentenced last month to 60 years in prison on federal child pornography charges. Now, more alleged victims of his perversion are today seeking justice as they attend Nassar's sentencing for sexual misconduct.
In a Michigan courtroom this Tuesday, Nassar will be sentenced after pleading guilty to seven counts of criminal sexual conduct relating to allegations he assaulted girls under the guise of medical treatment. The court will hear from as many as 88 victims, who will face their abuser and read their victim statements, CNN reports.
Nassar was the team doctor USA Gymnastics through four Olympic Games, he also worked at Michigan State Uniersity from 1997 until 2016 as an associate professor and sports physician.
When he issued his plea in November, he admitted to the court to putting his finger in girls' vaginas during 'treatment', including with girls under 13, and said the incidences went back as far as 1998.
Olympian Aly Raisman, 23 - who competed alongside Biles in the Rio Olympics - said she was first treated by Nassar when she was 15 and accused USA Gymnastics of "allowing him to thrive".
"We were molested by a monster. It was mandatory to get 'treatment' by Nassar," she posted to Twitter in January.
She first went public with her accusations in November, telling TIME that Nassar always suggested massage treatment for any injury; that the massages would be focused around the pelvic region; that he never wore gloves; and that he penetrated her vagina with his fingers.
— Simone Biles (@Simone_Biles) January 15, 2018
McKayla Maroney, another of the 'Fierce Five', said Nassar assaulted her before she won gold at the London Olympics in 2012. She was 16 at the time. She alleges his abuse started when she was 13.
"It seemed whenever and wherever this man could find the chance, I was 'treated,'" Maroney wrote on Twitter in October. "It happened in London before my team and I won the gold medal, and it happened before I won my silver."
Though Biles did not detail any of the assault she allegedly suffered, she called Nassar's behaviour "disgusting".
"It is not normal to receive any type of treatment from a trusted team physician and refer to it horrifyingly as the 'special' treatment," Biles wrote.
"This behaviour is completely unacceptable, disgusting, and abusive, especially coming from someone whom I was TOLD to trust."
If you or anyone you know is experiencing sexual or physical abuse, contact 1800 Respect on 1800 737 732. You can also visit their website.
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