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Culture > News

Simone Biles Chose Not to Speak at Larry Nassar’s Sentencing Because It Would’ve Been Too Stressful

After former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for sexually abusing more than 190 athletes, Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles has revealed why she didn’t read her own victim statement at Nassar’s sentencing. While promoting the Feb. 3 premiere of the Lifetime movie based on her life, the 20-year-old spoke with several news outlets on Wednesday about her decision.

Speaking to BuzzFeed morning show AM2DM, Biles said that she chose not to speak at Nassar’s sentencing because she has yet to see a therapist about her experience with him. “I think for me that would be too much to handle, personally, especially before going to counseling and talking to anyone,” she said. “And I was still training, so I couldn’t take the time out and go, and I think it would just put too much stress on me.”

Aly Raisman, Biles’ former Olympic teammate, was among the athletes who read her victim statement aloud in court. 2012 Olympian Jordyn Wieber also read her own statement. Former gymnast McKayla Maroney and 2012 gold medalist Gabby Douglas previously came forward as sexual abuse victims of Nassar, while Biles identified herself as a victim earlier this month. 

After Nassar was sentenced last week, Biles took to Twitter, calling Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, who presided over Nassar’s case, her “hero.” Referring to Nassar, she wrote, “He will no longer have the power to steal our happiness or joy.”

Also appearing on TODAY Wednesday morning, Biles shared an emotional moment with anchor Hoda Kotb, who opened the interview by mentioning her tweets about Nassar. When the gymnast’s voice began to waver, Kotb gently reminded her, “He can’t hurt you anymore.”

In a reply that emphasizes how brave Biles and her fellow victims have been in this scenario, Biles said, “No, he cannot.”

Currently in training for the 2020 Olympics, Biles clearly isn’t letting her past trauma affect her professional goals. Her choosing not to speak at the sentencing also reminds us that sexual abuse victims have the right to determine how vocal they are about their experiences. We applaud her and the other athletes who spoke out against Nassar in any and all ways. 

Kristen Perrone is a Siena College Class of 2018 alumna. She studied English during her time at Siena.