Prominent Olympic gymnasts McKayla Maroney, Simone Biles, Maggie Nichols, and Aly Raisman were among the athletes who took a stand at court against the FBI agents who mishandled the case of abuse against USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar.
In 2018, 58-year-old Nassar was sentenced to between 40 and 175 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to seven counts of first-degree criminal sexual misconduct with children under the age of 16.
During the time he was holding the position of a doctor for the country’s gymnastic team, he was said to have sexually assaulted hundreds of young girls.
The first person who came forward about what was going on behind closed doors within the team was retired gymnast McKayla Maroney, a seven-time gold Olympic medalist. She accused the FBI agents whom she spoke to about the abuse for responding with “silence.” She also added that they “disregarded” her trauma when interviewing her over her experiences with Nassar.
“They chose to fabricate, to lie about what I said and protect a serial child molester,” she told the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, claiming the agents didn’t document her report until 17 months later.
“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?” she said.
Some of the gymnasts who testified said they complained about Nassar in the 90s, but nothing was done against him until 2015.
Simone Biles’ testimony was very emotional. She said she was glad that Nassar was behind bars, but added that those who protected him for so long deserve to be prosecuted as well.
“I do not 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,” Biles said. “To be clear I blame Larry Nasser, and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse.”
With tears in her eyes, she asked those present at the hearing: “How much is a little girl worth?”
“I sit before you today to raise my voice so that no little girl must endure what I, the athletes at this table, and the countless others who needlessly suffered under Nassar’s guise of medical treatment which we continue to endure today. Nassar is where he belongs but those who enabled him need to be held accountable.”
“If you allow a predator to harm children, the consequences will be swift and severe, enough is enough” she added.
Report by the Department of Justice Inspector General published in July stated there were missteps, delays and cover-ups by FBI agents in the process of handling the allegations.
“I’m deeply and profoundly sorry to each and every one of you,” FBI Director Christopher Wray, who took the job in 2017, said in his opening statement.
“I’m sorry for what you and your families have been through. I’m sorry so many people let you down over and over again. And I’m especially sorry there were people at the FBI who had their own chance to stop this monster back in 2015 and failed, and that is inexcusable. It never should have happened, and we’re doing everything in our power to make sure it never happens again.”
Scared young women gathered the courage to speak out of the injustice and the abuse they suffered, and those who were supposed to protect them decided to “turn a blind eye.” We hope everyone who tried to cover any evidence up will get the punishment they deserve.