Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) sent a letter to USA gymnasts Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, and Maggie Nichols to thank them for their testimonies before the Senate Judiciary Committee and request their feedback on the structural failures of the Larry Nassar investigation.
Additionally, Senator Blackburn sent a letter to Ju’Riese Colón of U.S. Center for SafeSport demanding answers to questions posed during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Larry Nassar.
Read the full letter to the USA gymnasts here and below.
Dear Mses. Biles, Maroney, Nichols, and Raisman,
I appreciated hearing each of your powerful testimonies before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and I want to thank you for sharing your experiences with us in such a public setting. It took remarkable strength and courage to speak up. By doing so, you’ve sent a message of encouragement to so many women and girls that they are not alone and they need not remain silent in the face of abuse.
Larry Nassar betrayed your trust. But he was not the only one who failed to protect you. This was a systemic failure, and every single person in authority who turned a blind eye to your abuse must be held accountable.
Our Committee owes it to you and to all other young athletes to investigate these structural failures and hold the people involved accountable. Indeed, that is the only way we can make sure that this kind of abuse never happens again.
Part of our task requires us to examine the practices and institutions that are designed to protect victims and prevent abuse.
To that end, I would welcome your feedback on the following issues:
- Some of you mentioned that you distrust the United States Center for SafeSport—the very organization charged with protecting athletes. Are there any organizations that you feel you can trust?
- What kind of reforms would you like to see implemented to help ensure that the abuse you suffered never happens again?
Any input you can provide on these questions will be invaluable to us as we investigate this matter. I thank each of you for your continued engagement and insight on this issue. With your help, we can work together to ensure the safety of future generations of young athletes.
Read the full letter to SafeSport here and below.
Dear Ms. Colón,
We write to you to express concern regarding the recent U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary hearing on Dereliction of Duty: Examining the Inspector General’s Report on the FBI’s Handling of the Larry Nassar Investigation. Specifically, we are concerned that the U.S. Center for SafeSport may not have the correct tools and resources to fulfill its obligations to protect young athletes in the United States.
After years and years of reported misconduct in youth sports, Congress passed the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017. This bill further authorizes the U.S. Center for Safe Sport to ensure that Olympic athletes can report allegations of abuse to an independent entity for investigation and resolution, and to make sure that all national governing bodies follow the strictest standards for child abuse prevention and detection. This daunting task quickly put the Center for SafeSport on the frontlines of protecting our most innocent and vulnerable youths from evil predators in sports.
In the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on September 15, 2021, victims of Mr. Nassar, including Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Maggie Nichols, and Aly Raisman bravely publicly testified on how the USOPC and the FBI neglected their cases against Mr. Nassar. This inexplicable dereliction of duty should never have happened; and under your watch, should never happen again.
In August 2021, the U.S. Center for SafeSport released a detailed, strategic plan on how they plan to fulfill their duties. The report includes five core themes: accountability, sustainability, reach, partnership, and development.
We’d specifically like to touch on accountability, reach, and partnership in the questions below:
- What is your response to the testimonies submitted by the witnesses in the Senate Committee on the Judiciary hearing on September 15, 2021?
- What have you learned from the witnesses’ tragic experiences with USOPC, FBI, and others?
- How can audits of NGBs, the USOPC, and Paralympic Sport Organizations (PSOs) ensure accountability?
- Do you believe you are fulfilling your mandate effectively? If not, why?
- What additional resources do you need to ensure that predators are held accountable and children are protected from abuse?
We appreciate your attention to this important matter. It is paramount for the U.S. Center for SafeSport to ensure young athletes that those who harm them, or try to inflict pain, are held accountable at the highest levels.
Additionally, we request briefing on this request within 30-days of receipt of this letter.