I'm sorry for doubting Simone Biles

I have not watched even one minute of the ongoing Tokyo Olympic Games, but I have seen several interesting news stories about our U.S. competitors.  In addition to the disrespect shown our flag by several athletes, I was most upset by gymnast Simone Biles.  Miss Biles withdrew from several events, citing her mental health.  If she did not want to compete, I thought, then why even be on the team?

Today I watched a Netflix documentary entitled Athlete A, which made my blood boil.  It is the story of USA Gymnastics and that institution's collusion with the monstrous Dr. Larry Nassar.  Nassar, a trainer and team doctor for the girls' gymnastic team, serially molested as many as five hundred young female athletes, most in their early teens.  USA Gymnastics, embodied by their CEO Steve Penny, ignored reports of Nassar's crimes and told the complainants to be quiet or risk their daughters' places on the team.

If there are more horrific crimes than those perpetrated by pedophiles against our children, then those are crimes with which I am not familiar.  I hope the hottest and deepest pits of hell are reserved for these indecent creatures.  I feel fortunate that I, my siblings, my children, and my grandchildren, to the best of my knowledge, have never suffered at the hands of a child-molester.  But there have been people in my life who have been victims of these monsters.  Some have had their lives destroyed by the acts.  Innocence lost in this manner is not reclaimable.  The stories of the victims and survivors of pedophilia rarely have happy endings.

Watching Steve Penny claim his Fifth Amendment rights while "testifying" before a Senate committee that was looking into the affair was cringe-worthy.  Penny had routinely dismissed allegations made against Nassar, not wanting to do anything to stop the Olympic medals parade.  The committee's decision to look the other way, along with the questionable methods employed by girls' gymnastics coaches, Bela and Marta Karolyi, had been remarkably effective in garnering international championships.  The investigation into Penny's part in the scandal is ongoing, and he faces up to ten years in prison.

The Karolyis — Romanian-born and trained Bela and his Hungarian-born wife Marta — used in America the same overbearing methods that had produced Nadia Comăneci's success for them while coaching in Romania.  After their defection to the U.S., representatives of USA Gymnastics appeared all too happy to look the other way while enjoying the Karolyi-spawned medals harvest.  The couple was notorious for demanding that their athletes perform, even while injured.  Nassar was often responsible for keeping the girls "healthy."  The Karolyis have not been accused of knowing about Nassar's actions, or any other crime, but they are no longer associated with girls' gymnastics, having retired and closed their Houston, Texas gymnastics camp in 2018.

Nassar, who pleaded guilty to several charges, evoked one of the strongest condemnations by a sentencing judge in recent history.  Judge Rosemarie Aquilina declared that by sentencing the disgraced doctor to a sentence of forty to one hundred seventy-five years in prison, she was gladly signing his death warrant.  One can only hope he suffers every moment of his sentence.

Simone Biles is one of the several hundred young female gymnasts who have publicly accused Dr. Nassar of molesting them.  Though Biles is not featured in the movie, having endured the actions of Nassar, it is no wonder that her mental health is an issue.  I, for one, am sorry to have ever doubted her.  God bless Simone and all the girls who shared her terrible experience.  I pray that she and the other girls do get a chance at a rare happy ending to their stories.

Image: Simone Biles by Secretaria de Deportes.  CC BY 4.0.

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