Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut and the subcommitee’s ranking member, said Wednesday’s hearing was “a critical step forward.”
“Across Olympic sports, there are stories of young athletes who have been victimized and have survived physical, emotional and sexual abuse,” Senator Blumenthal said. “We want to fight it, and correct it, and prevent it from happening again.”
Ms. Dantzscher, who won a bronze medal at the 2000 Olympic Games, said she had spoken out about Dr. Nassar’s abuse beginning that year and received criticism from members of the U.S.A. Gymnastics staff. She urged the committee to question the organization’s former chairman, Paul Parilla, and its former president, Steve Penny, and to hold U.S.A. Gymnastics accountable.
“This is a case of powerful people protecting other powerful people,” Ms. Dantzscher said. “It is up to you, as powerful members of the United States Senate, to hold them accountable, and I believe you will.”
In addition to the gymnasts, a retired former speedskater, Bridie Farrell, and a U.S. figure skater and coach, Craig Maurizi, also testified about having experienced trauma dating to as far as 40 years ago. Mr. Maurizi said he informed the U.S. Figure Skating Association about the sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of a coach, Richard Callaghan, more than a decade ago.
McKayla Maroney, one of Ms. Wieber’s teammates on the 2012 U.S. gymnastics team, submitted written testimony to the committee and said her abuse from Dr. Nassar started when she was 13.
On Tuesday, Ms. Wieber filed a lawsuit against U.S.A. Gymnastics, the U.S. Olympic Committee, and Michigan State, alleging that the organizations could have done more to prevent Dr. Nassar from abusing athletes. Nearly 300 similar lawsuits have already been filed against Michigan State and U.S.A. Gymnastics.
“We appreciate the willingness of these athletes — who share in our determination to root out abuse in youth sport governing bodies — to share their stories,” Senator Jerry Moran, Republican of Kansas and the chairman of the subcommittee, said, “and aid in our investigation to protect all U.S.O.C. athletes, at all levels, in all sports.”