Decorated gymnast Simone Biles is suing USA Gymnastics and the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee, according to court documents filed on Monday, June 15. She and about 140 other plaintiffs say the organizations were complicit in keeping the Larry Nassar sexual abuse case under wraps. This is the first time Biles has been named specifically in a public court filing relating to the ongoing civil case, ESPN reports.
Attorneys representing former Olympians including Biles, Aly Raisman, Jamie Dantzscher, McKayla Maroney, Madison Kocian, Kyla Ross, Jordyn Wieber and dozens of other sexual assault survivors filed a motion asking Olympic officials — including those currently on staff and those who’ve left the franchise — to testify.
Nassar, the disgraced former Team USA doctor, was sentenced to over 230 years in prison after he pled guilty to multiple criminal sex charges, including molesting patients, who were often underage, using the guise of medical treatment. This civil case aims to hold accountable the institutions that the plaintiffs allege allowed the abuse to take place by willfully ignoring it.
Many of the gymnasts involved in the suit say that USA Gymnastics either knew or should have known that Nassar was taking advantage of young athletes and patients, The Cut reports.
BREAKING NEWS: @Simone_Biles, survivors ask court to force USOPC @TeamUSA to provide answers in Larry Nassar @USAGym cases @ocregister @Tokyo2020 @gymnastics #MeToo https://t.co/4nAZE1nGyN
— Scott M. Reid (@sreidreporter) June 15, 2020
“Your abuse started over 30 years ago, but that’s just the first case we know of,” gold medalist Raisman said to Nassar in a statement at his sentencing hearing in 2018. “If over these many years, had just one adult listened, and had the courage and character to act, this tragedy could have been avoided… Fact is, we have no idea how many people you victimized or what was done or not done that allowed you to keep doing it and to get away with it for so long.”
Biles spoke out on Twitter about the abuse for the first time in January 2018. At the time, she released a statement revealing that she’d been sexually assaulted by Nassar while competing and at training camps for Team USA. “I am not afraid to tell my story anymore,” she wrote. “I too am one of the many survivors that was sexually abused by Larry Nassar. 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.”
Damning emails obtained by the Indianapolis Star showed apparent attempts from USAG to cover up Nassar’s “therapy techniques” on at least two occasions in 2015, the year Nassar stopped working for USAG. A 2018 investigation found that Steve Penny, the former CEO of USAG told Alan Ashley, the USOPC’s former chief of sport performance, and Scott Blackmun, USOPC’s former CEO, about the abuse. But no one did anything to stop it, The New York Times reports. After Nassar left the team, no one disclosed the reason for his departure to Michigan State University, and the school allowed the former doctor to continue to abuse girls and young women as an osteopathic surgeon.
Biles has not yet responded to Refinery29’s request for comment.
Plaintiffs rejected a $215 million settlement earlier this year from USAG, in part to ensure the USOPC is held accountable. Now they want to see USOPC chair Susanne Lyons, Ashley, and Blackmun testify, ESPN notes. At the time the settlement was proposed, Biles wrote on Twitter: “Still want answers from USAG and USOPC. Wish they BOTH wanted an independent investigation as much as the survivors & I do. Anxiety high.”
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