Simone Biles and three former teammates of the U.S. National Gymnastics Team said in Senate testimony Wednesday that the FBI not only mismanaged the investigation into the Larry Nassar sexual abuse case, but also had protected USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic and Paralmypical Committee.
The testimony of the gymnasts – Biles, McKayla Maroney, Maggie Nichols and Aly Raisman – came months after the Office of the Inspector General released a report saying that FBI officials in Indianapolis “failed to respond to allegations of sexual abuse of athletes by former USA Gymnastics. physician Lawrence Gerard Nassar with the urgency that the allegations demanded. “
The gymnasts explained how the FBI investigation falsified statements, downplayed abuse, and demonstrated a lack of urgency in pursuing allegations by several athletes, allowing Nassar to continue assaulting children.
“Nelson Mandela once said, ‘There can be no more vivid revelation of the soul of a society than the way it treats its children.’ It is the power of this statement that compels me and gives me the power to be here before you today, “said Biles.” I don’t want another young gymnast, Olympian or any other individual Long live the horror that I and hundreds of others have endured before, during and today as a result of the abuse of Larry Nassar. “
Maroney explained in detail the assaults she suffered at Nassar’s part and said that by relaying them to FBI agents over the phone, they fell silent before answering, “Is that all?” “
“Those words themselves were one of the worst moments of this whole process for me,” said Maroney. “Let my abuse be minimized and ignored by the people who were meant to protect me just to feel like my abuse was not enough. But the trust is that my abuse was enough. And they wanted to cover it up.”
Maroney said the FBI falsified her report and silenced her in its investigation, and the OIG report revealed that the statement written by the FBI agent who interviewed her was “essentially false. “.
Nichols said when she reported her abuse to the USAG, she was treated differently by the governing body. She said Nassar was allowed to retire with his reputation and return to the state of Michigan, where he continued to abuse others.
“I reported my abuse to USA Gymnastics over six years ago, and my family and I have still received few responses and still have more questions about how it was allowed and why dozens of little girls and women in the state of Michigan must have been abused after I reported, ”Nichols said. “As I sacrificed my childhood for the chance to compete for the United States, I am haunted that even after reporting my abuse, so many women and girls must have suffered at the hands of Larry Nassar after I was reported.”
Raisman said his reports had been buried by the USAG and USOPC, and mismanaged by federal law enforcement, and that after learning of Nassar’s abuse, they still had done nothing to restrain its access despite the USAG office sharing a building with Indiana Child Protection Services.
“Instead, they quietly allowed Nassar to slip in through the side door, knowingly allowing him to continue his work at MSU, Sparrow Hospital, a USAG club and even report to the school board,” Raisman said. “Nassar found over 100 new victims to assault. It was like serving innocent children to a pedophile on a silver platter.”
Maroney asked what was the point of filing an abuse complaint with law enforcement if he was just going to be buried. She said mismanagement of relationships allowed Nassar to continue abusing girls and women for over a year.
“Not indicting these officers is a disservice to me and my teammates. It is a disservice to the system that was built to protect us all from abuse. It is a disservice to every victim who suffered needlessly at their hands. by Larry Nassar after I spoke, ”Maroney said. “Why are public servants whose job it is to protect getting away with it? It is not fair. Enough is enough. Today I ask all of you to hear my voice. I ask you to do all in your power to ensure that these individuals are held accountable for ignoring my initial report. For lying about my initial report. And for covering up a child molester. “
Raisman raised questions about possible reasons for the mismanagement of the investigation. She asked whether it was to protect sponsorships, the bid to host the Olympic Games in Los Angeles in 2028, protect jobs or avoid criminal liability.
“Why do we have to speculate when the facts are available and the stakes are so high? Raisman said. “Just as it is naive to assume that the problem lies only with Nassar, it is unrealistic to think that we can grasp the full extent of the guilt without understanding how and why the USAG and USOPC chose to ignore abuse for decades, and why the interaction between these three organizations has led the FBI to willfully ignore our reports of abuse. “
After the OIG report, Nichols said there had been no accountability for the wrongdoing by those involved in the FBI investigation or those in the USAG or USOPC. She has said so far that the only person to face federal charges arising from the Nassar abuse investigation is Nassar himself.
“For hundreds of Larry Nassar survivors, this hearing is one of our last opportunities for justice,” said Nichols. “We ask you to do what is in your power to ensure that those who engage in wrongdoing are held accountable under the law.”
Biles said all survivors continue to live with the scars of Nassar’s abuse. The only one of Nassar’s victims to compete in the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, Biles said postponing the games meant having to go to the gym, train, undergo therapy and live with the daily reminder of history for 365 days. extra before she could compete again.
She said what drove her every day was “the goal of not letting this crisis be ignored”.
“I worked incredibly hard to make sure my presence could maintain a connection between chess and competition at Tokyo 2020,” Biles said. “It has proven to be an exceptionally difficult burden for me to carry, especially when I have to travel to Tokyo without the support of any member of my family. I am a strong person and will persevere. But I would not. never had to be left alone to endure Larry Nassar’s abuse and the only reason I did that was because of the failures that are at the heart of the abuses you are asked to investigate. “
The OIG report also stated that the FBI field office in Los Angeles had received the same allegations after eight months of inaction from those in Indianapolis, and that although the Los Angeles office had taken action to investigation, “he also took no further steps to mitigate the current threat posed by Nassar.”
The report also revealed that the special agent in charge of the Indianapolis field office, Jay Abbott, had made false statements to the OIG to minimize the errors made by the office and that he had spoken with the president of the USAG. , Stephen Perry, for potential employment with the US Olympic Committee. The report states that Abbott applied for the post and “falsely denied doing so when questioned by the OIG on two occasions.”
“Looking at the OIG report, it really feels like the FBI turned a blind eye to us and did everything they could to help protect the USAG and USOPC,” Biles said. “A message must be sent. If you allow a predator to harm children, the consequences will be quick and severe. Enough is enough.”
After an investigation into Nassar’s assault, he was sentenced to 60 years in federal prison in 2017, 40 to 175 years in Michigan State Prison in January 2018, and an additional 40 to 125 years in L State of Michigan in February 2018. Investigations revealed that he had had sex. assaulted at least 265 young women and girls.