During a Senate Judiciary hearing on Wednesday, four elite gymnasts abused by the former team doctor Larry Nassar slammed the FBI for mishandling the investigation.
The hearing is part of a congressional effort to hold the agency FBI accountable for multiple missteps while investigating the case, including the delays that enabled the now-imprisoned criminal Nassar numerous chances to abuse other gymnasts.
The four talented gymnasts include Simon Biles, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney, and Maggie Nichols, who came forward and highlighted such prominent organisations’ wrongdoings and made sure no other victims were treated this way.
All of whom said that Nassar victimised them under the guise of medical treatment.
Simone Biles, one of the most decorated American gymnasts in history, presented a gut-wrenching testimony and became highly emotional.
While backing her tears, she said she feels “failed” by the FBI and accuses the agency of turning a blind eye towards the victims.
She blamed USA Gymnastics, the U.S. Olympics Committee, Larry Nassar and the FBI for the longing abuse.
Biles explained that she doesn’t want any other gymnast, athlete, or individual to experience the horrible situation she faced with hundreds of other women.
Aly Raisman, the captain of the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team during the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games, informed that the said authorities did not appropriately handle her reports of Nassar’s abuse.
They also failed to take their most basic duties while investigating. Raisman also added that despite being reported the abuse as early as 2015, the doctor had been permitted to get away with it and continue to have access to gymnasts for more than a year, which was like serving innocent children up to a paedophile on a silver platter.
A medalist from the 2012 Olympics, McKayla Maroney, informed that the officials who were meant to protect her minimised and disregarded her disappointing experience.
The former collegiate gymnast, Maggie Nichols at the University of Oklahoma, an eight-time national champion, informed that the FBI failed to interview her for more than a year after reporting her abuse. She said Nassar continued to abuse women and girls.
An internal investigation by the Department of Justice released a damning report in July that found out that the FBI mishandled the investigation and didn’t treat the case with the level of seriousness when the USA Gymnastics first reported the allegations the FBI’s field office in Indianapolis in 2015.
The Office of the Inspector General told the FBI’s Indianapolis Field Office did not begin taking steps to investigate until a month after reporting the abuse, then only interviewed one of three athletes who came forward to be interviewed.
After that single interview, the OIG said agents did not consider visiting the case for eight months.
Nassar’s victims have alleged the doctor’s sexual assaults continued during that time. The FBI acknowledged and described those actions as inexcusable and discredit to this organisation.
Nassar was convicted in 2018 after pleading guilty to child pornography charges, evidence tampering and sexual assault and sentenced to up to 175 years in prison.
Now it is suspecting that whether an independent investigation will happen or not.
The authority speculates that the groups may have covered up the athletes’ abuse to protect sponsorships, Los Angeles’ bid to host the 2028 Olympic Games, or shield gymnastics and Olympics officials from criminal liability or losing their jobs.
The senators of Republican and Democratic expressed their displeasure over the case and assured them that they would continue the investigation proceedings.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Richard Durbin said that testimony was the most compelling and heartbreaking he has ever witnessed.
Many are praising the gymnasts as their bold move will inspire many to stand against such heinous crimes.
But the real question is, will such agencies who are meant to protect us be punished if they fail to do so?