‘The FBI protected a child molester’: US gymnasts Biles & Maroney hit out at authorities at hearing into pedophile doctor Nassar
Biles' stinging remarks to Congress were delivered as part of a committee to launched to determine mishandling of the FBI's investigation into Nassar, 58, who was convicted and sentenced to between 40 and 175 years in prison as a result of a prolonged series of sexual abuse of numerous young athletes under his care.
Biles and fellow gymnasts Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Maggie Nichols appeared before the committee along with FBI Director Christopher Wray, who was expected to face an aggressive line of questioning.
"To be clear, I blame Larry Nassar and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse," Simone Biles gives her opening statement at a Senate hearing on the FBI's handling of the Larry Nassar investigation. pic.twitter.com/yPJX0ejnLg— MSNBC (@MSNBC) September 15, 2021
"I don’t 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," a tearful Biles said in her comments.
"To be clear, I blame Larry Nassar and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse. If you allow a predator to harm children, the consequences will be swift and severe."
The committee was formed following the release of a 119-page report from the Department of Justice Inspector General which unearthed several key mistakes and cover-ups by FBI agents involved with the case which are thought to have prolonged Nassar's abuse and led to further victims being targeted.
The Inspector General's report found that between the authorities being first notified of the allegations against Nassar and his eventual arrest in 2016, he abused at least 70 more women and girls - though legal counsel for them say that the real figure is likely closer to 120.
It also found that the Indianapolis FBI field office has been unusually slow to respond to what was a lengthy list of serious allegations against the Olympic team doctor. This reportedly led to two FBI agents lying about their investigations into the case, one of whom is understood to have been fired in the past week.
"The scars of this horrific abuse continue to live with all of us … The impacts of this man’s abuse are not ever over or forgotten," continued Biles.
"USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee knew that I was abused by their official team doctor long before I was ever made aware of their knowledge.
"We suffered and continue to suffer, because no one at the FBI, USAG, or the USOPC did what was necessary to protect us," she added. "We have been failed."
Nassar, who is currently incarcerated in a Florida penitentiary, was accused of the sexual abuse of more than 330 women and girls during his time working with USA Olympics and Michigan State University, with Biles – who is the most successful gymnast in history – offering a highly critical opinion of the FBI's investigation but adding that she was "relieved" since speaking out about her abuse after feeling "a lot of pressure" to keep it to herself.
McKayla Maroney, another victim of Nassar's, has also stated that she was sexually abused by Nassar over the course of a seven-year period which began when she was just 13-years-old.
U.S. Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney begins her testimony at hearing on FBI's handling of Larry Nassar investigation: "What I'm trying to bring to your attention today is something entirely disturbing and illegal." https://t.co/XMZuu2PHeppic.twitter.com/d9lqPoPIBN— ABC News (@ABC) September 15, 2021
"I was molested by the US gymnastics national team and Olympic team doctor Larry Nassar," said Maroney in her opening remarks to the committee. "And in actuality, he turned out to be more of a pedophile than he was a doctor."
Maroney also alleged that the FBI grossly mishandled the investigation and made "entirely false claims" related to her accusation - something she says took the FBI 17 months to document.
"What I’m trying to bring to your attention today is something incredibly disturbing and illegal," she added. "After telling my entire story of abuse to the FBI in the summer of 2015, not only did the FBI not report my abuse, but when they eventually documented my report, 17 months later, they made entirely false claims about what I said after reading the office of inspector general’s OIG report, I was shocked and deeply disappointed at this narrative.
"They chose to fabricate. They chose to lie about what I said and protect a serial child molester rather than protect not only me, but countless others."