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"It's revictimisation, it's retraumatising for sure" | Kavitha Davidson on Simone Biles

The Athletic's Kavitha Davidson joined Off The Ball on Thursday to discuss the Capitol Hill hear...

Cian Fahey
Cian Fahey

21:10 16 Sep 2021



Olympics

"It's revictimisation, it's retraumatising for sure" | Kavitha Davidson on Simone Biles

Cian Fahey
Cian Fahey

21:10 16 Sep 2021

The Athletic's Kavitha Davidson joined Off The Ball on Thursday to discuss the Capitol Hill hearings on Larry Nassar's crimes.

Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Michaela Maroney and Maggie Nichols were amongst the gymnasts who spoke before congress this week.

Nassar pleaded guilty to seven counts of criminal sexual conduct in 2008. More than 150 women and girls said in court that he had abused them. Upon his sentencing, the judge said "I've just signed your death warrant. I find that you don't get it, that you're a danger. That you remain a danger."

Nassar remains in prison today.

These hearings were about the FBI's failings that allowed Nassar to continue to abuse women after initial accusations. Kavitha Davidson outlines how the story developed to that point in 2008.

“This was a systemic failure," Davidson said.

"USA gymnastics, the US Olympic Team, the FBI, which is what this hearing is about, failed all of these victims. And the FBI didn't report these testimonies for 17 months when they started these investigations.

"In these 17 months, 120 other women were abused by Larry Nassir so a lot of people's heads really need to roll here.”

Jessica Howard, one of the gymnasts speaking in front of Congress, when asked what she hoped to see, responded "indictments." These testimonies are about creating accountability for those who failed Nassar's victims.

Two FBI agents handled the investigation, one was allowed to retire while the other was fired this week.

According to Davidson, the failings in this investigation are typical of these types of investigations.

"Unfortunately this is not new when it comes to investigations of sexual assault. Anyone who knows how these investigations go, it usually tries to minimize or place the abuse on the part of the victim.

"Michaela Maroney said 'They asked me if the treatment Larry Nassir gave me ever helped me.' And she rightfully sounded dumbfounded by that question.

"How many times do we need to hear sexual assault victims talk about how damaging the questioning of investigators was?

"Aly Raisman also said, 'They tried to convince me in the course of the investigation that it wasn't that bad.'

"The FBI has a lot of things to answer for here. The two investigators are no longer with the FBI, one of them was just fired this week. The other one was allowed to retire. There are a lot of questions here about the process, about why this only involved two people and about what the FBI is going to do going forward.”

Biles famously suffered with her mental health during the Olympics. She now has to put herself in the spotlight again by speaking in front of Congress.

Davidson acknowledged that in itself is creating another ordeal for victims who have already been through enough.

“It's revictimisation, it's retraumatising for sure," she explained. "The fact of the matter is, these are women who have been in the public eye because they are the best gymnasts in the world for years.

"They're used to being in front of cameras, but nothing can compare you for being in front of a camera talking about your abuse over and over and over again.”

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