In front of Congress on Wednesday, Sept. 15, multiple U.S. gymnasts testified against the appalling FBI mismanagement in their sexual abuse probe of Larry Nassar.
ABC News reported that Nassar, a former USA Gymnastics team doctor, had been sentenced to 175 years behind bars three years ago after pleading guilty to sexually harassing hundreds of girls and women.
The congressional hearing was a response to a July Justice Department inspector general report which alleged the FBI had made “fundamental errors” when it examined Nassar’s case.
Helping to expose the botched investigation included McKayla Maroney, Simone Biles, Maggie Nichols, and Aly Raisman. All of them had been victims of Nassar, and their paths when seeking justice with the FBI had been difficult.
All four struggled with similar issues, and the FBI ignored them.
“Not only did the FBI not report my abuse …. 17 months later, they made entirely false claims about what I said,” Maroney said, according to KHOU11.
“They allowed a child molester to go free for more than a year and this inaction directly allowed Nassar’s abuse to continue,” she added.
Accusations against Nassar were initially brought to the agency in July of 2015. According to a damning Justice Department inspector general report released in July, a series of protocol infractions resulted in months of delays.
“It truly feels like the FBI turned a blind eye to us and went out of its way to help protect USAG and USOPC,” gymnast Biles said in tears.
“I reported my abuse to USA Gymnastics over six years ago and still my family and I received even few answers and had even more questions why this allowed to occur and why dozens of other little girls and women at Michigan State had to be abused after I reported,” Nichols testified.
“The agent diminished the significance of my abuse. It made me feel my criminal case wasn’t worth pursuing,” Raisman said.
The report also noted that the Justice Department has failed to prosecute the FBI individuals involved in the investigation two times.
“The Department of Justice, refused to prosecute these individuals. Why?” Maroney asked.
“It is the Department of Justice’s job to hold them accountable,” she said. “I am tired of waiting for people to do the right thing, because my abuse was enough and we deserve justice.”
According to CNN, it was not until in recent weeks that the officials participating in the Nassar probe were terminated by the federal bureau.
The outlet added that an FBI supervisor, who the I.G. report found violated protocols and made false claims, had retired in January 2018.
“I’m sorry for what you and your families have been through,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray, who was not director at the time Nassar’s allegations came forward.
“I’m sorry that so many different people let you down over and over again. And I’m especially sorry that there were people at the FBI who had their own chance to stop this monster back in 2015 and failed,” Wray continued.
“That is inexcusable. It never should have happened, and we’re doing everything in our power to make sure it never happens again.”
The outrage over Nassar has brought together politicians from both parties, with bipartisan backing for an investigation into the FBI’s failures and the Department of Justice’s conduct.
“It’s not only that the FBI failed to do its job, systematically, and repeatedly. It is also the cover up, the cover up that occurred afterwards,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).
“Every single person in authority who turned a blind eye to these young athletes’ allegations is complicit in Nassar’s crimes, and each one of them should be considered a predator,” said Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.).