Subscribe to Here’s the Deal, our politics newsletter for analysis you won’t find anywhere else.
Thank you. Please check your inbox to confirm.
Leave your feedback
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday heard testimony from four elite U.S. gymnasts about the FBI's mishandling of sexual abuse allegations against former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Maggie Nichols criticized the agency and pressed lawmakers to demand further accountability for those who enabled Nassar. Amna Nawaz reports.
The Senate Judiciary Committee today heard damning testimony from four elite U.S. gymnasts about the FBI's mishandling of sexual abuse allegations against former USA Gymnastics coach doctor Larry Nassar.
Each criticized the agency and pressed lawmakers to demand further accountability for those who enabled Nassar.
Amna Nawaz reports.
McKayla Maroney, Nassar Accuser:
What is the point of reporting abuse if our own FBI agents take it upon themselves to bury that report in a drawer?
Today, on Capitol Hill, four of America's top gymnasts recounted their abuse by former team USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar and the FBI's failure to investigate.
This was clear cookie-cutter pedophilia and abuse. And this is important because I told the FBI all of this, and they chose to falsify my report.
Maggie Nichols, NASSAR Accuser:
USA Gymnastics and the USA Olympic and Paralympic Committee and the FBI have all betrayed me and all those who were abused after I reported.
Aly Raisman, Nassar Accuser:
The FBI made me feel like my abuse didn't count, and it wasn't a big deal. And I remember sitting there with the FBI agent, and him trying to convince me that it wasn't that bad.
And it's taken me years of therapy to realize that my abuse was bad, that it does matter.
Simone Biles, Nassar Accuser:
To be clear, I blame Larry Nassar. And I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse.
Simone Biles, the lone Nassar assault survivor on the 2020 Tokyo Olympic squad, said pushing for accountability is part of why she kept competing.
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.
One thing that helped me push each and every day was the goal of not allowing this crisis to be ignored. That has proven to be an exceptionally difficult burden for me to carry.
More than 250 women and girls accused Larry Nassar of sexual abuse. He was sentenced to 60 years in federal prison in 2017. Should he outlive that, Nassar faces up to 175 years in Michigan state prison.
Lawmakers berated the FBI's botched probe today, including failing to properly investigate allegations of abuse first brought to their attention in 2015.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT):
Dozens of young women lay before Larry Nassar, and he did with them what he wanted, with trauma and terror that will last a lifetime. That pain was preventable. It was needless.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX):
If FBI did so little in the investigation that involved world-class athletes, what hope can an average American have?
The FBI's failures were laid out in a July report from the Justice Department's inspector general.
It found FBI field offices failed to formally document a July 2015 meeting with USA Gymnastics when the FBI first received allegations against Nassar, they waited five weeks to conduct a phone interview with one of the athletes who was abused, and failed to reach out to others altogether, and that the special agent in charge made false statements and omitted material information, in an attempt to minimize errors made by the Indianapolis field office.
The special agent in charge went so far as to seek out a potential job opportunity with the U.S. Olympic Committee.
FBI Director Christopher Wray called the FBI's inaction unacceptable.
Christopher Wray, FBI Director:
When I received the inspector general's report and saw that the supervisory agent in Indianapolis had failed to carry out even the most basic parts of the job, I immediately made sure he was no longer performing the functions of a special agent.
And I can now tell you that that individual no longer works for the FBI in any capacity.
Still, questions remain about what justice looks like for these women and the hundreds more who say they were abused by Nassar and failed by the system.
All we are asking for is that, when a child goes into gymnastics, or goes to school, or does anything, that they can be spared abuse.
And the fact that we have been treated like adversaries by so many organizations, and our abuse has been diminished, we have been victim-shamed online over and over again, we have been gaslit, we have been made to feel that we don't matter by these organizations, and I never want another child to feel that way again.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Amna Nawaz.
Watch the Full Episode
Amna Nawaz joined PBS NewsHour in April 2018 and serves as the program's chief correspondent and primary substitute anchor.
Courtney Norris is the deputy senior producer of national affairs for the NewsHour. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @courtneyknorris
Support Provided By:
Additional Support Provided By: