INDIANAPOLIS -- For the first time in a public court filing, Simone Biles, America's most decorated gymnast and Team USA's best hope for gold at next summer's Tokyo Olympics, has identified herself as a plaintiff in the ongoing civil case involving USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee.
On Monday, attorneys for former Olympians including Biles, Madison Kocian, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney, Kyla Ross, Jordyn Wieber and Jamie Dantzscher, along with some 140 other sexual assault victims of disgraced Team USA doctor Larry Nassar, filed a motion seeking the testimony of current and former Olympic officials.
In January 2018, Biles first released a statement on Twitter revealing she had been sexually assaulted by Nassar while at training camps and competitions for Team USA. Monday's court filing marks the first time she publicly identified herself as a plaintiff in the ongoing civil action, which has her in the unique position of suing the same entities that sanction her sport.
The motion filed in federal bankruptcy court in Indianapolis seeks the testimony of, among others, Susanne Lyons, the current chair of the USOPC; Scott Blackmun, the organization's former CEO; and Alan Ashley, the former chief of sport performance.
In February, attorneys representing the sport's governing body, USA Gymnastics, proposed a $215 million settlement offer in the federal bankruptcy case. That offer, since rejected by the more than 140 Nassar survivors, was contingent on those survivors releasing the USOPC from any current or future claims. Such a release would mean not only that the USOPC would not be held financially responsible for compensating Nassar survivors, but also that current and former officials within the organization would not have to offer testimony in the form of court depositions.
"The intent is to shield the survivors, court and public from the truth regarding what USOPC knew about the sexual abuse of its athletes," Monday's court filing states.
In a telephone hearing last week, Robyn L. Moberly, the chief judge for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of Indiana, said it would be an "enormous" benefit for the USOPC if a settlement agreement proposal releasing the organization from any legal liability is approved, according a report first published in the Orange County Register.
According to an investigation conducted on behalf of the then-USOC (the organization has since been renamed to include Paralympic athletes) by the Boston-based law firm Ropes & Gray, both Blackmun and Ashley were informed about Nassar's sexual assaults on Team USA gymnasts in July 2015 by former USAG CEO Steve Penny.
"Neither Mr. Blackmun nor Mr. Ashley engaged with USAG on the reported concerns, shared the information with others at the USOC, or took any other action in response to the information from Mr. Penny to ensure that responsible steps were being taken by USAG and the USOC to protect athletes," the Ropes & Gray report states.
Nassar stepped down as national medical coordinator for USA Gymnastics in September 2015 but continued to treat patients in his role as an osteopathic physician at Michigan State University until September 2016.
In that year after Olympic officials were warned of Nassar's behavior, attorneys for the survivors say, Nassar continued his serial sexual assaults under the guise of medical treatments, victimizing more than 100 girls and young women over that time period. Neither Blackmun nor Ashley alerted anyone at Michigan State about the real reason behind Nassar's departure from USA Gymnastics.
Blackmun resigned as USOPC CEO in February 2018 under mounting pressure related to his mishandling of the Nassar investigation. He received a $2.4 million buyout. Ashley was terminated by the USOPC in December 2018.
Biles, who continues to train for the delayed Tokyo Olympics, was never approached in the summer and fall of 2015, when USAG officials first became aware she had concerns about Nassar's behavior during purported treatment sessions.
"It's hard coming here for an organization, having had them fail us so many times," Biles told reporters at the 2019 U.S. Championships.
Biles did not respond to a request for comment about Monday's filing in the bankruptcy case.