Intense testimony from Olympic gymnasts gripped Capitol Hill on Wednesday as they testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee to discuss the Larry Nassar sexual abuse investigation.
In 2018, Nassar was sentenced to 40-175 years in prison after 150 women and girls came forward with stories of his abuse, as CNN reported.
As part of the investigation, the Justice Department’s inspector general discovered “violations of protocols” at the Federal Bureau of Investigation “led to months of delay” before the agency finally acted on the allegations.
Accusations started to make their way to the FBI in July 2015.
Gold medalist Simone Biles gave a particularly harrowing speech, calling out the agency’s ignorance and lack of urgency in addressing Nassar’s abuse.
“I don’t want another young gymnast, 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,” she said, according to a transcript published by the New York Post.
“To be clear, I blame Larry Nassar, and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse. USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee knew that I was abused by their official team doctor long before I was ever made aware of their knowledge.”
Biles then went on to blast the FBI by name.
“We suffered and continue to suffer, because no one at FBI, USAG or the USOPC did what was necessary to protect us. We have been failed, and we deserve answers,” she said.
“In reviewing the OIG’s report, it truly feels like the FBI turned a blind eye to us and went out of its way to help protect USAG and USOPC. A message needs to be sent: If you allow a predator to harm children, the consequences will be swift and severe. Enough is enough.”
Biles made headlines during the Olympics in Tokyo for backing out of several events, and she explained in her testimony that trauma played a role in her performance at the games.
“I will close with one final thought. The scars of this horrific abuse continue to live with all of us,” she said. “As the lone competitor in the recent Tokyo Games who is a survivor of this horror, I can ensure you that the impacts of this man’s abuse are not ever over or forgotten.
“The announcement in the spring of 2020 that the Tokyo Games were to be postponed for a year meant that I would be going to the gym, to training, to therapy, living daily among the reminders of this story for another 365 days,” she continued.
“As I have stated in the past, one thing that helped me push each and every day was the goal of not allowing this crisis to be ignored. I worked incredibly hard to make sure that my presence could maintain a connection between the failures and the competition at Tokyo 2020.
“That has proven to be an exceptionally difficult burden for me to carry, particularly when required to travel to Tokyo without the support of any of my family. I am a strong individual and I will persevere, but I never should have been left alone to suffer the abuse of Larry Nassar. And the only reason I did was because of the failures that lie at the heart of the abuse that you are now asked to investigate.”
Biles was not the only athlete to denounce the FBI.
“What is the point of reporting abuse if our own FBI agents are going to take it upon themselves to bury that report in a drawer?” McKayla Maroney said.
“They had legal legitimate evidence of child abuse and did nothing. If they’re not going to protect me.
“What’s even more upsetting to me is that we know that these FBI agents have committed an obvious crime,” she continued. “They falsified my statement, and that is illegal in itself. “
Fellow Olympic gymnasts Aly Raisman and Maggie Nichols also testified about Nassar and how the FBI’s neglect prolonged the situation.
The FBI must look at the mistakes it made in the horrific Nassar case and assure the public, and these Olympians, that changes will be made.
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