Sept. 16, 2021 — Four medal-winning U.S. gymnasts shared their stories on Wednesday of being sexually abused by former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.
They expressed frustration while recounting traumatic and graphic details during a Senate hearing on the FBI’s mishandling of the investigation into Nassar’s actions, according to NBC News.
“I don’t want another young gymnast, or Olympic athlete, or any individual to experience the horror that I and hundreds of others have endured before, during, and continuing to this day in the wake of the Larry Nassar abuse,” Simone Biles, who has won 25 world championship medals and seven Olympic medals for Team USA, said in her opening statement.
She said the organizations that were created to protect athletes, such USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, “failed to do their jobs.” She also said the FBI “turned a blind eye.”
“We suffered and continue to suffer because no one at FBI, USAG, or the USOPC did what was necessary to protect us,” she said. “We have been failed, and we deserve answers.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing came after a Justice Department inspector general report from July detailed the FBI’s mishandling of the case against Nassar. The report found that gymnasts contacted the FBI about sexual assault in 2015, but he continued to treat gymnasts at Michigan State University, a high school, and a gymnastics club until September 2016.
In 2017, Nassar pleaded guilty to abusing 10 of more than 265 women and girls who have come forward to say they were molested, NBC News reported. He is now in prison and will serve up to 175 years.
Gymnasts McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, and Maggie Nichols also spoke during the hearing on Wednesday. They called for the institutions and people who should have protected them to be held accountable, according to NBC News.
Lawmakers asked the gymnasts what type of accountability they would like to see. Raisman said an independent investigation should look at connections between the FBI, USA Gymnastics, and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee.
“Nobody should be off limits. Nothing should be off limits,” she said. “I personally would like to see all three organizations completely investigated.”
Christopher Wray, who became the FBI director in 2017, apologized for the failure to investigate the claims said the agency is making changes such as mandatory training. He also said the FBI agent accused of failing to investigate the allegations was fired.
“That is inexcusable. That never should have happened, and we’re doing everything in our power to make sure it never happens again,” he said.
“I’d like to make a promise to the women who appeared here today and to all survivors of abuse. I am not interested in simply addressing the wrong and moving on,” Wray continued. “It’s my commitment to you that I and my entire senior leadership team are going to make damn sure everybody at the FBI remembers what happened here in heartbreaking detail.”