US gymnasts criticize FBI for ‘failed investigation’ into Larry Nasser abuse

Olympic gymnasts Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Maggie Nichols slammed the FBI and the Justice Department during a Senate testimony on Wednesday for how FBI agents mishandled the abuse allegations levied against Larry Nassar and the false statements they made after a botched investigation was conducted.

The four athletes recounted their experiences at the hands of Larry Nassar, a former doctor for USA Gymnastics. They testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, in the wake of a report released by the Justice Department’s Inspector General which revealed how the FBI failed to act on the gymnast’s complaints and how as a result Nassar was able to continue abusing young girls and women.

In a powerful opening statement, a tearful Simone Biles told the committee, “I don’t want another young gymnast, Olympic athlete, or any individual to experience the horror that I and hundreds of others endured before, during and continuing to this day in the wake of the Larry Nassar abuse.”

Biles blames the FBI, USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee for not trying to end the abuse sooner. “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 Judiciary committee. “We suffered and continue to suffer, because no one at the FBI, USAG or the USOPC did what was necessary to protect us. We have been failed,” Biles said.

McKayla Maroney also slammed the FBI for failing to act after she told them of her abuse in 2015. “After telling my entire story of abuse to the FBI in the summer of 2015, not only did the FBI not report my abuse, but when they eventually documented my report 17 months later, they made entirely false claims about what I said,” Maroney said. Raisman was particularly scathing in her criticism of the inaction taken by all three organisations, telling the committee that “it was like serving innocent children up to a paedophile on a silver platter.”

The Department of Justice Inspector General released the striking 119-page report in July. It found that Indianapolis FBI officials made false statements, failed to respond for months allowing more than 100 additional women and girls to be sexually abused, and that the FBI exhibited “extremely poor judgement” in their handling of the Nasser abuse allegations.

The report also said that the FBI’s Indianapolis field office failed to respond, “with the utmost seriousness and urgency that the allegations deserved and required.” Senate Judiciary Chairman Sen. Dick Durbin D-Ill said that the FBI’s handling of the case was a “stain on the bureau,” whilst ranking member Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, called for the FBI to be held more accountable for their actions.

“If there’s one thing the inspector general’s report illustrates it is this: that we need to make sure the bureau is more effective and held more accountable,” Grassley said. FBI Director Chris Wray apologised to the gymnast four times, “I’m deeply and profoundly sorry to each and every one of you. I’m sorry for what you and your families have been through. I’m sorry, that so many different people, let you down over and over again.” Wray said that he was “especially sorry that there were people at the FBI who had their own chance to stop this monster back in 2015 and failed.” 

Nassar’s sexual abuse was exposed in a September 2016 investigation carried out by the Indianapolis Star. Nassar pleaded guilty to the federal and state charges and was sentenced to 100 years in prison. In August, USA Gymnastics reached an agreement on a proposed $425 million settlement for the more than 500 women and girls that Nassar sexually abused. 




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