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. Although gymnasts reported to the FBI that they had been sexually assaulted in 2015, he kept treating them at Michigan State University and a gym until September 2016.
According to NBC News reports, Nassar pleaded guilty on behalf of 10 victims who had come forward and said they were molested. His sentence is currently at 175 years.
On Wednesday, gymnasts McKayla Maroney and Aly Raisman spoke at the hearing. Maggie Nichols was also present. According to NBC News they demanded that the institutions and those who could have protected them should be held accountable.
The gymnasts were asked by lawmakers what kind of accountability they wanted to see. Raisman suggested that an independent investigation be conducted to investigate connections between USA Gymnastics and USA Gymnastics.
“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 said that the FBI agent responsible for the failure to investigate the accusations 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.”