Larry Nassar testimony: Touching photo of Aly Raisman supporting Simone Biles goes viral

Social media users praise sisterhood among elite athletes during Senate hearing

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Thursday 16 September 2021 11:16 BST
Supporters Rally Behind Simone Biles

A heartwarming photo of gymnasts Aly Raisman and Simone Biles holding hands in a show of empathy during a US Senate hearing on Wednesday has been widely shared on social media.

Biles, Raisman and two other gymnasts, McKayla Maroney and Maggie Nichols, appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify about the FBI's investigation into former Team USA doctor Larry Nassar, who was jailed for sexual wrongdoing.

Nassar was found guilty on multiple counts of criminal sexual conduct in 2018 and sentenced to up to 175 years in prison. He was accused by at least 150 women and girls of sexual abuse over the years under the guise of medical treatment. He was arrested in 2016 on charges of possessing sexually explicit images of children, and jailed the following year.

United States gymnasts from left, Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Maggie Nichols, testify during a Senate Judiciary
United States gymnasts from left, Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Maggie Nichols, testify during a Senate Judiciary (AP)

Biles, a decorated Olympic gymnast, tore into USA Gymnastics and the FBI for failing to do their jobs. “The organisations created by Congress to oversee and protect me as an athlete, USA Gymnastics, and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, failed to do their jobs,” said Biles in her opening statement.

“The scars of this horrific abuse continue,” Biles testified, adding that “the impact of this man’s abuse will never be over”.

Several Twitter users hailed the sisterhood among the elite athletes during the Senate hearing.

“These women showed such bravery and courage today in detailing the traumatic sexual assault they experienced at the hands of Larry Nassar,” one user said. Many others said the gymnasts were “amazing”, praising their “courage”.

“Your courage, eloquence, and fierce grace are inspiring. Bystanders, enablers conspirators must be held accountable. The system must be reformed. Be gentle with yourselves as you do the excruciating work of healing,” one user wrote on Twitter.

Another user wrote, “Bawling in my car this morning. Aly Raisman, Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Maggie Nichols — the courage, grace and strength you have shown, not just this week but always, is an honour to witness.”

Maroney told the hearing: “Not only did the FBI not report my abuse, but when they eventually documented my report 17 months later, they made entirely false claims about what I said.”

Raisman told the panel that the gymnasts “have been victim-shamed online over and over again”. She added that all they asked for was that “when a child goes to gymnastics or goes to school or does anything that they can be spared abuse”.

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