Simone Biles explains why she wasn’t “emotionally ready” to face Larry Nassar

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Susan Devaney
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In her first televised interview since former USA Gymnastics physician Larry Nassar was sentenced to 175 years in prison, Simone Biles explains why she didn’t attend her abuser’s sentencing. 

Olympic gold medallist Simone Biles, who was allegedly sexually abused by former USA Gymnastics physician Larry Nassar, has revealed she didn’t attend his sentencing because she wasn’t “emotionally ready”.

During interviews with CNN and Today, her first televised appearances related to Nassar’s sentencing, Biles opened up about the alleged sexual abuse she faced.

“I don’t think I was emotionally ready for that, to go see him again, because I don’t know, that would just not be good,” Biles told CNN on Wednesday 31 January.

“I think emotionally I decided that because I need to be in a good place, especially in my gymnastics, because most of the girls might not return to gymnastics, (whereas) me, I’m still in training and I’m back.

“If I went there I think it would take me back, and I’m trying to move forward,” Biles further explained, referencing her preparation for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. 

Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics physician was accused of sexual abusing 156 women – including Biles’ Olympic teammate Aly Raisman - and was sentenced by Judge Rosemarie Aquilina to 175 years in prison of which he must serve at least 40. Nassar had already been sentenced to 60 years in prison for possessing over 37,000 images of child pornography, and pleaded guilty in November to “seven charges of first-degree sexual assault”.

Biles took to Twitter two weeks ago to share a lengthy post about the abuse she had endured from Nassar, saying she “wasn’t afraid to tell her story anymore”.

In a further interview with Today’s host Hoda Kotb, Biles further explained what she’s been through:

“I think it’s very hard for someone to go through what I’ve gone through recently and it’s very hard to talk about. But other than that I think the judge is my hero, just because she gave it to him straight and didn’t let him get any power of any of the girls and letting the girls go and speak was very powerful.”

Hoda then told Biles, “He can’t hurt you anymore.” And Biles replied, “No, he cannot.”

After the interview, Biles took to Twitter to show her appreciation:

“Thank you, Today - all my love! Hoda Kotb got me all choked up and teary eyed! I LOVE YOU!” 

After Nassar was sentenced, Biles took to Twitter to thank the judge, Aquilina:

You can read some of the stories of the women who took to the stand to share their statements and address Nassar directly here.

Images: Rex Features / Twitter