Survivors of abuse from former U.S. gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee to express their shock and anger at the FBI’s handling of the federal investigation into Mr. Nassar.
And while FBI Director Christopher Wray answered questions about his response to the Department of Justice Inspector General’s report on the FBI’s handling of the case at Wednesday’s hearing, many Lawmakers asked the DOJ itself about why it refused to prosecute two FBIs. agents referred to criminal proceedings for their conduct in the case.
Those questions went unanswered as neither Attorney General Merrick Garland nor any other Justice Department official appeared at Wednesday’s hearing, a decision that sparked the exasperation and anger of Senate panel members.
The leader among the Justice Department’s most vocal critics was Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, who told gymnasts Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Maggie Nichols and McKayla Maroney that an explanation was owed to them by absent officials.
Simone Biles gives moving testimony at Lary Nasser hearing
“Those [criminal] the referrals were denied … with no public explanation at all, ”the senator said. “I hope the Department of Justice, which was invited to attend today and refused to appear, will match your courage in explaining why these lies by the FBI agents did not lead to criminal prosecution and to responsibility. “
“They owe the American people and you an explanation,” he continued.
At times, the audience saw raw and emotional testimony, both when the gymnasts described the abuses committed by Mr. Nasser and when describing the responses of the FBI agents charged with investigating their allegations, including the actions and the words, according to the athletes, were cold and callous.
“What’s the point of reporting abuse if our own FBI agents bury this report in a drawer?” Ms. Maroney asked during her prepared opening statement. “They had legitimate legal evidence of child abuse and did nothing. If they don’t want to protect me, I want to know who they are trying to protect.
“Not only did the FBI not report my abuse, but when they finally documented my report 17 months later, they made completely false statements about what I said,” she continued, visibly. angry.
Ms Nichols accused the FBI and two US organizations involved in the case of betraying her and other victims.
“USA Gymnastics, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee and the FBI have all betrayed me and those who were abused by Larry Nassar,” she said. “Larry Nassar survivors have a right to know why their well-being has been endangered by these individuals who have chosen not to do their jobs.”
And Ms Biles broke down in tears when she told the committee in her own prepared statement that she hoped no other athlete or individual would ever face the continued trauma she and others have faced as a result of the actions of Mr. Nasser and failures of investigators.
“I don’t want another gymnast, Olympian or any other individual to go through the horror that I and hundreds of others have endured before, during and still today,” she said. collapse with emotion.
“To be clear, I blame Larry Nassar and I also blame an entire system that allowed and perpetrated his abuses,” she continued a moment later.
In his attempts to respond to witnesses and committee members after the panel returned from a lunch break, FBI Director Wray said he could not explain or begin discussions with the Department of Justice regarding their decision. not to prosecute the two distinguished FBI agents. by the Inspector General, and added that it was a “frustration” that a third former officer involved in the case could not be disciplined due to his retirement.
“We have made a doozies of mistakes in 113 years,” Wray said in response to Senator John Cornyn. “What I would say to these women is that I am deeply sorry for what our parents did and, more importantly, did not do in 2015.”
During questioning of committee members, Ms Raiman and Ms Biles proposed a way forward for the three entities – USA Gymnastics, the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee and the FBI – which saw their reputations heavily tarnished as a result of the scandal. mass, which in total would have involved hundreds of victims, many after the first allegations of sexual abuse were raised.
“I believe that a full and comprehensive independent investigation by the FBI, USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee [is necessary]Ms. Raisman said, explaining, “And from there we should know the answers of who should be held accountable.”
Ms Biles added: “We want to see them … prosecuted federally to the extent possible.”
Mr. Nassar currently resides in federal prison in Florida, serving a 60-year sentence. He also faces a 40 to 125 year sentence in a Michigan state prison for a second conviction if ever released.
In her second trial in early 2018, a Michigan judge said she signed her “death warrant” imposing the long second sentence, virtually assuring that Mr. Nassar would never live as a free man again.
The Independent Gt