Angelina Jolie commends gymnasts for testifying before the senate

·3 min read
Angelina Jolie commends gymnasts for testifying before the senate

Angelina Jolie has paid tribute to the gymnasts who stood before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

This week, Jolie visited Capitol Hill to meet with athletes McKayla Maroney and Aly Raisman. Alongside Simone Biles, the two testified at Wednesday's Senate hearing regarding the poor FBI handling of an assault investigation into former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.

Sharing photos of her visit to Instagram, Jolie wrote that it was an honour to meet with the gymnasts and that she's been in awe of their courage in coming forward. "I was honoured to meet with some of the brave US gymnasts who appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday. I'm in awe of their courage and commitment to preventing future failures to investigate abuse," she wrote in the caption. "As Aly Raisman said in her testimony, 'Over 100 victims could have been spared the abuse. All we needed was one adult to do the right thing.' Sending support and respect to them, and to all who are reliving this trauma so that system reforms can occur."

Nassar has been accused of sexual assault in over 150 reports by women and girls. In January 2018, he was officially sentenced to 175 years in prison. On Wednesday, gymnasts Maroney, Raisman, and Biles appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify against former Inspector General Michael Horowitz's FBI report on the Nassar investigation, arguing that the report included false statements that neglected to document survivors' claims.

Throughout the testimony, Biles alluded to her own experience of sexual assault while noting that it reflected a systemic problem. "I am also a survivor of sexual abuse. And I believe without a doubt that the circumstances that led to my abuse and allowed it to continue, are directly the result of the fact that the organizations created by Congress to oversee and protect me as an athlete, USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC), failed to do their jobs," Biles said.

"I don't want another young gymnast, Olympic athlete, or any individual to experience the horror that I and hundreds of others have endured before, during and continuing to this day, in the wake—of the Larry Nassar abuse," Biles added. "To be clear, I blame Larry Nassar and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse."

Photo credit: SAUL LOEB - Getty Images
Photo credit: SAUL LOEB - Getty Images

Jolie has been an outspoken advocate of human rights. In addition to her visit with the gymnasts on Capitol Hill, she has also worked with Senators throughout the week to include "better protections for abused children, non-biased forensic evidence collection, trauma care" on the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization and FBI reforms, per her Instagram post.

Jolie's Capitol Hill visit comes ahead of the release of her new book, Know Your Rights and Claim Them: A Guide for Youth, published with Amnesty International and human rights lawyer Geraldine Van Bueren. Earlier this month, she shared with Reuters that she hopes her upcoming book will help educate victims about their rights and help those vulnerable to "fight back."

"So many children are in harm's way across the world and we're simply not doing enough," Jolie told the news organisation. "These are their rights, decided years ago based on what would make them healthy, balanced, safe and stable adults."

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