The brave gymnasts who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week about the sexual abuse they suffered at the hands of Larry Nassar had a proud supporter in their corner.
Angelina Jolie shared a photo on Instagram Thursday of her with five of the women to express her admiration as they fight for change and accountability after the FBI admitted on Wednesday to mishandling the investigation into the former USA Gymnastics doctor.
"I was honored to meet with some of the brave US gymnasts who appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday," Jolie wrote. "I’m in awe of their courage and commitment to preventing future failures to investigate abuse. 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. I was on Capitol Hill this week, engaging with Senators on the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization and FBI reforms, including better protections for abused children, non-biased forensic evidence collection, trauma care, and judicial training."
Jolie is pictured with former elite gymnasts Kaylee Lorincz, Maggie Nichols, McKayla Maroney, Jessica Howard and Aly Raisman, who all said they suffered sexual abuse by Nassar. The disgraced doctor is serving up to 175 years in prison after pleading guilty to abusing 10 of the more than 265 accusers who came forward.
Jolie has been a strong advocate for women's rights and speaking out against gender-based violence and abuse, spending nearly two decades campaigning for human rights around the world. In an essay for TIME magazine last year, she wrote about the pandemic potentially erasing decades of gains in gender equality around the world.
The gymnasts are fighting for accountability after it came to light that the FBI didn't open an investigation into Nassar until almost a year after first learning of the accusations. During that lag time, it's estimated that Nassar abused more than 70 additional gymnasts.
Raisman spoke on TODAY Thursday about her frustration with the FBI's handling of the case and her hopes for an independent investigation into how it happened so that a similar situation can be prevented in the future.
"The agent just kept diminishing my abuse and telling me that he didn't feel like it was that big of a deal and maybe I should drop the case," Raisman said.
"It was just not a good experience, and listening to McKayla Maroney's testimony was just gut-wrenching to hear her experience as well. It's devastating."