Gymnasts Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Maggie Nichols gave powerful testimonies before a Senate committee against former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar on Wednesday.
In a cascade of raw emotion, the athletes called out the FBI, Justice Department and others for failing to protect them and others against the sexual abuse they were exposed to at the hands of Nassar.
“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way it treats its children,” Biles said in her opening statement. “It is the power of that statement that compels me to be in front of you today. 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.”
Simone Biles chokes up in testimony about FBI's Nassar investigation: "I blame Larry Nassar and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse. USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee knew that I was abused by their official team doctor" pic.twitter.com/JTIviU4Yjq— CBS News (@CBSNews) September 15, 2021
During Maroney’s opening statement, the decorated gymnast called out the FBI’s handling of her claims.
“After telling my entire story of abuse to the FBI in the summer of 2015, not only did the FBI not report my abuse, but when they eventually documented my report, 17 months later, they made entirely false claims about what I said,” she said.
Full opening statement: At Senate hearing, McKayla Maroney describes reporting abuse by Larry Nassar "in extreme detail" to the FBI in 2015:— NBC News (@NBCNews) September 15, 2021
“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?" pic.twitter.com/TOjUSgVx9R
Raisman said that she felt “pressured by the FBI to consent to Nassar’s plea deal” and that it took over 14 months for them to get back to her after she made several requests to be interviewed.
“In 2015, it was known that at least six national team athletes had been abused by Nassar,” Raisman said. “There was even one of the athletes that was abused on film. Given our abuser’s unfettered access to children, stopping him should have been a priority. Instead, the following occurred: The FBI failed to interview pertinent parties in a timely manner. It took over 14 months for the FBI to contact me despite my many requests to be interviewed by them.”
Aly Raisman testifies about the failures by FBI and athletic officials to investigate Larry Nassar: "A survivor's healing is affected by the handling of their abuse. It disgusts me that we are still fighting for the most basic answers and accountability over six years later." pic.twitter.com/BMR52fwy6i— CBS News (@CBSNews) September 15, 2021
Maroney said that the FBI committed “an obvious crime” and that action needs to be taken.
“They had legal, legitimate evidence of child abuse and did nothing. If they’re not going to protect me, I want to know who are they trying to protect?” she said.
“What’s even more upsetting to me is that we know that these FBI agents have committed an obvious crime. They falsified my statement, and that is illegal in itself. Yet no recourse has been taken against them. The Department of Justice refused to prosecute these individuals. Why?” she asked. “Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco couldn’t bring herself to be here today. It’s the Department of Justice’s job to hold them accountable.”
Nichols, who was the first to report the abuse, said that it took the FBI more than a year to contact her after she initially reported it.
Maggie Nichols testifies about FBI agents ignoring reports of Larry Nassar's sexual abuse of USA gymnasts: "The survivors of Larry Nassar have a right to know why their well-being was placed in jeopardy by these individuals who chose not to do their jobs." pic.twitter.com/Tv62SLKjue— CBS News (@CBSNews) September 15, 2021
“The cover-up of my abuse and the FBI’s failure to interview me for more than a year after my complaint are well documented in the OIG report. After I reported my abuse to USA Gymnastics, my family and I were told by their former president, Steve Penny, to keep quiet and not say anything that could hurt the FBI investigation. We now know there was no real FBI investigation occurring. While my complaints [were] with the FBI, Larry Nassar continued to abuse women and girls,” she said.