Simone Biles and Denzel Washington were among the 17 honorees who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from Joe Biden in a ceremony on Thursday (July 7), NPR reports.
Biden praised Biles, who is the most decorated American gymnast in history, for the work she’s done as an advocate for victims of sexual assault.
“Today, [Biles] adds to her medal count of 32 – I don’t know if you’re gonna find room,” Biden chimed. He also recognized her courage “to turn personal pain into a greater purpose, to stand up and speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.” At age 25, she is the youngest person to ever receive the Medal of Freedom.
As previously reported by REVOLT, Biles is among the dozens of women suing the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for negligence in the sexual assault case against former sports doctor Larry Nassar.
“We suffered and continue to suffer because no one at FBI, USAG or the USOPC did what was necessary to protect us,” said Biles during a 2021 hearing. “We have been failed, and we deserve answers. Nassar is where he belongs, but those who enabled him deserve to be held accountable. If they are not, I am convinced that this will continue to happen to others across Olympic sports.”
In 2017, Nassar was sentenced to 70 years in federal prison on child pornagraphy charges followed by a sentencing of up to 175 years in a Michigan state prison in 2018 after he pleaded guilty to seven counts of criminal sexual conduct.
Biden was surprised with the highest honor himself in 2017 when former President Barack Obama presented him with the award.