Simone Biles takes aim at USA Gymnastics and the FBI for allowing sex assault to occur.
Gymnasts from the United States of America criticize organizations regulated by Congress for neglecting to probe years of abuse.
Simone Biles of the United States of America has lambasted USA Gymnastics and the FBI for standing by as team doctor Larry Nassar molested her and hundreds of other athletes in the greatest sexual abuse case in American sports history.
“We have been let down, and we deserve answers,” Biles stated bluntly and tearfully during a US Senate public hearing on Wednesday, alongside three other athletes, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney, and Maggie Nichols.
“It truly feels as like the FBI turned a blind eye to us,” Biles said, adding that senators who oversee congressionally mandated US Olympic regulating bodies have further responsibility.
Maroney echoed Biles' allegations, telling how she informed the FBI of "my complete account of assault in the summer of 2015." Not only did the FBI fail to report my abuse, but when they did, 17 months later, they produced completely fraudulent statements about what I said.”
When she recalled abuse that occurred in 2011 during the world championships in Tokyo, she tearfully informed an FBI agent over the phone that Nassar gave her a sleeping medication and then came "on top of me, violating me for hours."
The FBI agent then questioned her, "Is that all?" - a response, she later told a Senate hearing, that "was one of the most difficult moments of this entire process for me."
Biles stated that she volunteered to testify "so that no small child has to experience what I, the athletes at this table, and the countless others who suffered needlessly under Nassar's masquerade of medical care have to endure today."
“We have suffered and will continue to suffer because no one at the FBI, USAG, or USOPC took the required precautions to safeguard us,” Biles stated.
In July, Inspector General of the Department of Justice Michael Horowitz released a 119-page report exposing law enforcement mistakes that allowed Nassar's abuse to continue for months. Nassar was convicted of sex offences in 2017 and 2018 and is currently receiving a sentence of up to 175 years in prison.
FBI Director Chris Wray told the Senate panel that the employees' actions were unforgivable, and he stated that one of the officers "no longer works for the bureau in any capacity."
“I am profoundly sorry,” Wray stated.
Senators pressed Wray on why FBI officers who bungled the investigation were never penalized for their actions.
“The FBI employees' conduct and inactions outlined in (the Inspector General's) report are completely unacceptable,” Wray stated. “These individuals betrayed their fundamental obligation to protect others. They fell short of safeguarding young women and girls against abuse.”
Biles, the most decorated gymnast of all time, startled the Tokyo Games in July by withdrawing from the team competition following a shaky opening vault and then opting out of defending her all-around title. Biles returned to compete a few days later, winning a bronze medal on the balance beam.
“I am convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the circumstances surrounding my abuse and the failure of the organizations created by Congress to oversee and protect me as an athlete, USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, failed to do their jobs,” Biles told the Senate.
The FBI began its investigation into Nassar in July 2015, when USA Gymnastics President and CEO Stephen Penny notified the FBI's Indianapolis field office of the claims and provided agents with the names of three willing witnesses.
This office, supervised at the time by Special Agent in Charge Jay Abbott, did not initiate an inquiry formally. The FBI examined only one witness months later, in September 2015, and did not document that interview formally until February 2017 — well after Nassar was arrested in December 2016 on accusations of collecting sexually explicit pictures of youngsters.
When the interview was ultimately documented in 2017 by an anonymous supervisory special agent, Horowitz decided that the report had "materially inaccurate information and omitted material facts."
The FBI's Indianapolis field office failed to notify state or local law enforcement agencies of the claims.
“It is not simply that the FBI failed to perform its duties in a systematic and recurring manner. It is also the cover-up — the cover-up that occurred when FBI agents made materially false statements and omitted material facts,” Senator Richard Blumenthal stated, noting that the Justice Department declined to pursue the agents.
“My hope is that the Department of Justice, which was invited to appear today but declined, will demonstrate the same courage as you by explaining why those FBI officers' lies did not result in criminal prosecution.”
Horowitz also stated that Abbott, who retired from the FBI in 2018, violated the FBI's conflict of interest guideline by discussing a prospective employment with the US Olympic Committee while he was investigating Nassar.
Abbott and the other unidentified supervisory special agent who mishandled the Nassar investigation were not prosecuted.
The FBI earlier described Abbott's behavior as "appalling" and stated that while he continues employed by the FBI, he is no longer a supervisor and is "not working on any additional FBI affairs."
Abbott's lawyer previously expressed gratitude to authorities for bringing Nassar to justice in a statement.
Nassar, who served as the primary physician for Olympic gymnasts, was sentenced to 60 years in prison in 2017 in federal court on counts of collecting child sex abuse evidence.
He was also convicted to up to 175 years in prison and up to 125 years in prison the following year in two separate Michigan courts for assaulting female gymnasts in his care. According to prosecutors, he sexually assaulted hundreds of women.
John Geddert, a former US Olympic coach with connections to Nassar, committed suicide in February, only hours after being charged with human trafficking, sexual assault, and operating a criminal organization.