U.S. Star Gymnasts Testified about their Abuse and its Aftermath

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In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, elite gymnasts Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Maggie Nichols, and Aly Raisman of U.S.A. gave an emotional narrative of F.B.I. errors in the investigation of former national team doctor Larry Nassar.

The four women- Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Maggie Nichols, and Aly Raisma- who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday have been referred to by initials or numbers in a plethora of reports and documents for years: “Athlete B,” “Gymnast 1,” “Athlete A,” “Gymnast 3.”

The testimony gave a relentless story of how the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S.A. Gymnastics and the country’s Olympic and Paralympic Committee failed to investigate or act when they became potential victims of sexual assault by former national team doctor Larry Nassar on Wednesday.

Protecting the Abuse(r)

Nassar worked as the team doctor for the United States women’s gymnastics team for nearly two decades. More than 330 women and girls at the U.S.A. Gymnastics and Michigan State University indicted him of a sexual abuse-the majority of the members are 2012 and 2016 U.S. Olympic women’s gymnasts teams.

He was convicted of various state and federal charges in 2017 and is currently serving life sentences without the possibility of parole. His serial molestation is at the centre of one of the most high-profile cases of child sexual abuse in American history.

Wednesday’s hearing appears following the Justice Department’s Inspector General Michael Horowitz report of the F.B.I.’s investigation. It uncovered multiple blunders, delays, and cover-ups on the part of F.B.I. investigators, allowing Nassar’s abuse more victims for over a year before he got arrested.

Despite the enormity of the allegations against Nassar, the F.B.I. field office in Indianapolis was sluggish to respond, according to the 119-page report by the Department of Justice Inspector General.

The Emotional Hearing

Several gymnasts expressed their displeasure with the F.B.I.’s failure to question them about the abuse after they reported it. When the F.B.I. contacted them, they claimed the agents attempted to lessen the gravity of the abuse.

Simone Biles, the world’s most accomplished gymnasts, sobbed in front of a Senate committee as she explained to them that she doesn’t want any other young people to go through what she went through at the hands of Nassar.

Aly Raisman, the captain of the U.S. Olympic gymnastics teams in 2012 and 2016, stated her displeasure that she was “still battling for the most basic answers and accountability” more than six years after first reporting her assault.

McKayla Maroney, a 2012 Olympian, also testified, detailing how Nassar routinely molested her, including at the London Olympics, where she won a gold medal. She then revealed in graphic detail an episode of abuse while she was alone with him.

Maroney revealed her assault to an F.B.I. agent during a three-hour phone call from her bedroom floor in 2015 and had yet to tell her mother what Nassar had done. Maroney claimed the agent responded, “Is that all?” after she finished.

She displayed her frustration at the lack of empathy. It wasn’t until July of this year, she claims, that the Justice Department inspector general revealed what the F.B.I. did with the information she provided in a damning report: For a year and a half, they failed to document it and misrepresented what she told them about her experiences.

The Apology 

F.B.I. Director Christopher Wray sincerely apologised for the “reprehensible conduct” and “basic flaws” highlighted in the July report. Mr Wray only became the agency’s director in 2017, but he promised to avoid repeating the bungled case while in office.

He cited the dismissal of the supervising official implicated last week while pointing out that the other official, who ran the Indianapolis field office, had retired long before.

He agreed that both agents’ actions “violated the F.B.I.’s long-standing code of conduct” but claimed that the great majority of his staff was “inconsistent.”

Unanswered Questions

Meanwhile, Raisman expressed disappointment to probe the U.S.A. Gymnastics or the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee for years of a cover-up of Nassar’s abuse. “Why didn’t any of these groups issue a warning? USAG and USOPC have a long history of facilitating abuse by turning a blind eye.

Nassar’s conduct was known to both organisations long before it was made public,”she stated. The spokesperson of both the organisation couldn’t comment on it immediately. “We have been failed, and we deserve answers,” Biles said.

Lakshmi Sundari
Lakshmi Sundari
Student of life. Passionate about women’s empowerment, mental health, and other social issues.

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