Why the fuck do these American gymnasts have to keep taking a microphone to detail and relive the horrific abuse they suffered from bogus USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar?
Because no one has done nearly enough about it.
USA Gymnastics and the International Olympic Paralympic Committee haven’t done an independent investigation of how a predator and pedophile came to have access to little girls with Olympic dreams, and how they had to endure sexual abuse as a condition of that training.
So because only tentative half-measures have been taken, here were those women ONCE AGAIN steeling themselves to speak in a formal setting, this time in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
There was Simone Biles, the greatest gymnast of a generation, who has redefined the limits of human sinew, strength and balance, our American medalist, talking about how she was failed by every single one of the institutions she relied on.
“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,” Biles said. “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.”
Some of the Senators tried to put a nice spin on their appearance. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) gave another bullet point to critics who say she should retire by suggesting these women could put this all behind them now.
Put this behind them? There is no putting this behind them. They just told you how this abuse is like an epoxy that doesn’t wash off. You need to listen.
You know how these hearings go. The witnesses testify, and then during the “question” period, the Senators mostly grandstand. They waxed about the bravery of these women, and the certainty that because of their efforts, victims everywhere can finally speak out about their own abuse and expect a fair hearing.
Again, WERE YOU LISTENING?
This is a deliberative body that just a chamber away, gives Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH.) all the deference the former Ohio State wrestling coach could ask for, despite six men who have come forward to say Jordan knew of sexual abuse within the context of that program.
From a Feb. 2020 Sports Illustrated story:
“Adam DiSabato, captain of the team during the early 1990s, told members of the Ohio House Civil Justice Committee that Jordan and other officials ignored former Ohio State doctor Richard Strauss’s sexual abuse of wrestlers from 1979 to 1997. DiSabato said that Jordan and other team officials knew about open-shower facilities that facilitated sexual harassment and abuse of team wrestlers. Jordan has previously denied the allegation.“
Why haven’t Jordan’s political party, member institutions, and social clubs held him accountable? I’ll tell you what it actually means, powerful people are hypocrites, and no one wants to be impolite in the Congressional dining room.
It’s not safer today to come forward. There is no silver lining to this story yet. Those gymnasts didn’t come forward to do a polite public service announcement, they came rending garments to demand action. They aren’t some kind of abuse mascot, they are righteously angry. And they should be. At US Gymnastics, and the USOPC, at the fucking FBI, which has fired one agent but should be bringing charges against anyone in that organization that covered up this abuse.
McKayla Maroney named names and brought receipts.
“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 refused to prosecute these individuals. Why?” Maroney said. “Deputy attorney general Lisa Monaco couldn’t bring herself to be here today. It’s the Department of Justice’s job to hold them accountable.”
Are you telling me that people who have suffered abuse are going to look at this phalanx of Amazons who are begging, demanding the accountability that is six years overdue, and think that somehow this is going to be easier? For them? That they aren’t going to be dragged into the darkest corners of their memory so some fossil can tell them how brave they are before lunch with the Jim Jordans of the world?
And no one is actually making it easier for victims legislatively. Just the opposite. Texas legislators would remove the rights of abuse victims, even a 13-year old like many of the gymnasts were when they were abused, to end an unwanted pregnancy. Many of these same senators in the chamber on Tuesday watched some protections for victims in college rolled back by then-Education Secretary Betsy DeVos during the Trump administration.
People deserve legislative compassion, not a pat on the head when the cameras are on.
This hearing is not a happy ending. This is a story of massive failure, and of the systemic unwillingness to hold people accountable.
“There were 120 young women who laid before Larry Nassar on his examining table and he did with them whatever he wanted because the FBI did nothing,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said yesterday afternoon. “Let’s be very clear. The FBI’s inaction led to victimization of the most horrific and hideous kind.”
Dismantle US Gymnastics. Take down the USOPC. Those institutions failed to do the very minimum required when training young athletes. As for the FBI, several gymnasts said it best, federal charges for those found to have covered this up.
Don’t mistake this for “closure.” This hearing was another battle in the fight for these gymnasts to see some level of commitment from someone, ANYONE, to make sure this doesn’t happen again. And anything less than taking a blowtorch to these failed systems won’t suffice.