US gymnasts testify before Congress about FBI's Nassar investigation

15September 2021

(Saul Loeb/Pool/AP)
(Saul Loeb/Pool/AP)

A Senate hearing on how the FBI and Justice Department conducted the investigation into sexual abuse claims against former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar has wrapped.

The committee heard from four top gymnasts and Nassar abuse survivors: Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, and Maggie Nichols. The gymnasts blasted the investigators’ handling of their claims.

Allegations into Nassar were first brought to the agency in July 2015. Several violations of protocols led to months of delay, as captured in a scathing Justice Department inspector general report released in July.

FBI officials “failed to respond to the Nassar allegations with the utmost seriousness and urgency that they deserved and required, made numerous and fundamental errors when they did respond to them, and violated multiple FBI policies,” the report stated.

If you’re just reading in now, here’s a recap of some of what the gymnasts said:

Simone Biles:

Biles blamed “an entire system that enabled and perpetuated his abuse.”

“I don’t want another young gymnast, Olympic athlete or any individual to experience the horror that I and hundreds of others have endured before, during and continuing to this day, in the wake — of the Larry Nassar abuse,” Biles said in an emotional testimony.

“To be clear, I blame Larry Nassar and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse. USA gymnastics and the United States Olympic and Paralympic committee knew that I was abused by their official team doctor long before I was ever made aware of their knowledge,” she told the committee.

McKayla Maroney:

Maroney said the FBI agents who handled the investigation “committed an obvious crime” and deserved to be indicted.

“What’s even more upsetting to me is that we know that these FBI agents have committed an obvious crime. They falsified my statement, and that is illegal in itself. Yet no recourse has been taken against them. The Department of Justice refused to prosecute these individuals. Why?” she said. “Deputy attorney general Lisa Monaco couldn’t bring herself to be here today. It’s the Department of Justice’s job to hold them accountable.”

“These individuals clearly violated policies and were negligent in executing their duties, and in doing so, more girls were abused by Larry Nassar for over a year,” she said.

“To not indict these agents is a disservice to me and my teammates, a disservice to the system which is built to protect all of us from abuse,” the gymnast continued.

Maggie Nichols:

All of the gymnasts noted that the federal investigators did not immediately contact them after they reported the abuse. Nichols said she was not interviewed by the FBI for more than a year after she reported the abuse.

“The coverup of my abuse and the FBI’s failure to interview me for more than a year after my complaint are well-documented in the OIG report. After I reported my abuse to USA Gymnastics, my family and I were told by their former president, Steve Penny, to keep quiet and not say anything that could hurt the FBI investigation. We now know there was no real FBI investigation occurring. While my complaints [were] with the FBI, Larry Nassar continued to abuse women and girls,” she said.

Aly Raisman:

Raisman said it’s “unrealistic” to “grasp the full extent of culpability” without an investigation into why USA Gymnastics and the US Olympic Committee chose to ignore abuse reports.

“Without knowing who knew what when, we cannot identify all enablers or determine whether they are still in positions of power. We just can’t fix a problem we don’t understand, and we can’t understand the problem unless and until we have all of the facts.”

FBI Director Chris Wray and Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz also testified in a separate panel. Wray said that he felt “heartsick and furious” once he learned the extent of the agency’s failures.

Still, he painted the botched investigation as the product of “individuals” who “betrayed the core duty that they have of protecting people,” rather than being reflective of the agency as a whole. Wray vowed to “make damn sure that everybody at the FBI remembers what happened here in heartbreaking detail.”

This post was originally published on this site

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

See Your Business Here!

For more information on our listings, advertising, coupons, and mailers, please contact us today!