Simone Biles, the most decorated American gymnast in history, broke down in tears during an emotional court hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday regarding the FBI’s overlapping investigation and covering hundreds of reports of sexual abuse and assault by Larry Nassar, the convicted criminal and former U.S. Gymnastics and Michigan State University physician.
“I’m also a survivor of sexual assault,” Biles said Wednesday. “And I think without a doubt that the circumstances that led to my abuse and allowed it to continue are a direct result of the fact that the organizations set up by Congress to oversee and protect me as an athlete – the United States Gymnastics (USAG) and the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) – failed to do their job. ”
Biles, 24, was joined by three world-famous gymnasts, including McKayla Maroney, who described the abuse Nassar subjected her to as a teenager, including frequent assaults – which Maroney says was so serious that she thought she could die because she thought “there was no way” that he would let her go.
Maroney, 25, like so many others, warned the FBI about the abuse. She remembers agents who responded to her traumatic retelling of events with, “Is that all?” At the time, she was a minor.
“Not only did the FBI not report my abuse, but when they finally documented my report 17 months later, they made completely false allegations about what I said,” Maroney said. “They chose to lie about what I said and protect a serial child abuser rather than protect not only me but countless others.”
Wednesday’s hearing comes days after the FBI fired Michael Langeman, the special investigating agent who interviewed Maroney in 2015 and was among those agents at the FBI’s Indianapolis Field Office who found he had “failed to respond to the Nassar charges with the utmost seriousness and Urgent that they deserved and demanded, made many and fundamental mistakes when they responded to them and violated several FBI policies. ”
More than 330 people have come forward with allegations of sexual assault and misconduct under Nassar’s care. But the FBI is not the only system that has failed Nassar’s alleged victims when the earliest complaints about the doctor’s offense were submitted to MSU in 1997 – almost 20 years before his possible firing and arrest.
“To be ready. I blame Larry Nassar, but I also blame an entire system that made his abuse possible and committed, ”Biles said on Wednesday.
The hearing for Congress follows a 119-page report conducted by the Attorney General’s Inspector General that revealed the extent to which the FBI violently handled its investigation, which was released in July.
According to the report, nearly 40 girls and women in a 14-month period claimed to have been insulted by Nassar. During the same period, the FBI had already been alerted to previous allegations of sexual abuse against Nassar, but failed to investigate, follow up or file a formal complaint, leaving U.S. Gymnastics officials – and Nassar’s alleged victims – in the dark for eight months before the FBI – Los Angeles officials received another complaint.
The report also found that FBI officials in Indianapolis failed to interview the alleged victims, nor did they properly handle evidence or documented complaints. The agency ultimately failed to report abuse, according to the report.
FBI Director Christopher Wray also testified Wednesday, apologizing to Nassar’s victims, adding that he was both “heartbroken and furious” when he was told about the confused investigation. Wray took over as director in 2017.
“We must remember the pain that arose when our people failed to do their jobs,” he said, promising that this level of neglect would never occur again.
Nassar is in his third year of a life sentence for federal child pornography crimes as well as an additional 40- to 175-year sentence for assaulting nine girls and women while practicing sports medicine.
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