Simone Biles criticizes USA Gymnastics and the FBI for allowing sexual abuse

United States Olympic gymnast Simone Biles criticized USA Gymnastics and the FBI for standing on the sidelines as team doctor Larry Nassar assaulted her and hundreds of other athletes in the largest sexual abuse case in US history. American sports.

“They have failed us and we deserve answers,” Biles said in tearful direct testimony at a public hearing in the United States Senate on Wednesday, where he appeared with three other athletes, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Maggie Nichols.

“It really feels like the FBI is turning a blind eye to us,” said Biles, who further blamed lawmakers who oversee the US Olympic governing bodies made up of Congress.

Maroney echoed Biles’s allegations, recounting how she told “my whole story of abuse to the FBI in the summer of 2015. Not only did the FBI not report my abuse, but when they finally documented my report, 17 months later, they did. they made completely false claims about what I said. “

When she recounted the abuse that had occurred in 2011 at the Tokyo world championships, where she said that Nassar gave her a sleeping pill and then got “on top of me, abusing me for hours,” she tearfully told a police officer. FBI on the phone.

The FBI agent then asked, “Is that all?” – a response told the Senate committee that “it was one of the worst moments of this whole process for me.”

Biles said she chose to testify “so that no little girl should endure what I, the athletes at this table, and the countless others who suffered unnecessarily under the guise of Nassar from the medical treatment we continue to endure today.”

“We suffered and we continue to suffer, because no one at the FBI, USAG or USOPC did what was necessary to protect us,” Biles said.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz issued a 119-page report in July detailing law enforcement errors that allowed Nassar’s abuse to continue for months. Nassar was convicted in 2017 and 2018 of sex crimes and is serving up to 175 years in prison.

Larry Nassar, a former US gymnastics team doctor, pleaded guilty in November 2017 to sexual assault charges. [File: Rebecca Cook/Reuters]

Horowitz and FBI Director Chris Wray are scheduled to testify at Wednesday’s hearing. Wray will face a sharp bipartisan questioning about why the FBI agents who screwed up the investigation were never prosecuted for their misconduct.

Biles, the most decorated gymnast of all time, shocked the Tokyo Games in July when she withdrew from team competition after a poor opening vault and then decided not to defend her full crown. Biles returned to competition a few days later to win a bronze medal in the individual balance beam contest.

“I believe without a doubt that the circumstances that led to my abuse and allowed it to continue are directly the result of the fact that the organizations created by Congress to oversee and protect me as an athlete, USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic and Palympic Committee, failed. in doing his job, ”Biles told the Senate.

The FBI investigation into Nassar began in July 2015, after USA Gymnastics President and CEO Stephen Penny reported the allegations to the FBI Indianapolis field office and provided agents with the names of three victims who they wanted to be interviewed.

Olympic gymnasts Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Maggie Nichols and Aly Raisman told the Senate that they knew of other girls who were assaulted by Larry Nassar in the 18 months after the abuse was formally reported to the FBI. [Saul Loeb/Pool via Reuters]

That office, then headed by Special Agent in Charge Jay Abbott, did not formally open an investigation. The FBI only interviewed one witness months later, in September 2015, and did not formally document that interview until February 2017, long after the FBI arrested Nassar on charges of possessing sexually explicit images of children in December 2016.

When the interview was finally documented in 2017 by an anonymous supervisory special agent, the report was littered with “materially false information and materially omitted information,” the Horowitz report determined.

The FBI office in Indianapolis did not share the allegations with state or local law enforcement agencies.

“It’s not just that the FBI failed to do its job, consistently and repeatedly. It is also the cover-up, the cover-up that occurred when FBI agents made materially false statements and misleading omissions, ”said Senator Richard Blumenthal, adding that the Justice Department has refused to prosecute the agents.

“My hope is that the Justice Department, which was invited today and refused to appear, will match his courage in explaining why those lies from FBI agents did not lead to criminal prosecution.”

Horowitz also said that Abbott, who retired from the FBI in 2018, had violated the FBI’s conflict of interest policy by discussing possible work with the United States Olympic Committee while he was involved in the Nassar investigation.

Neither Abbott nor the other unidentified supervisory special agent who botched Nassar’s investigation were prosecuted for their actions.

The FBI previously called Abbott’s behavior “appalling” and said the supervising special agent remains with the FBI but is no longer a supervisor and “is not working on any more FBI business.”

An Abbott attorney said earlier in a statement that he is grateful to prosecutors for bringing Nassar to justice.

Nassar, who had been the Olympic gymnasts’ chief physician, was sentenced in federal court in 2017 to 60 years in prison on charges of possession of child sexual abuse material.

The following year, he was also sentenced to 175 years and up to 125 years, respectively, in two separate Michigan courts for sexually abusing the gymnasts in his care. Prosecutors have estimated that he sexually assaulted hundreds of women.

A former US Olympics coach linked to Nassar, John Geddert, committed suicide in February, hours after being charged with human trafficking, sexual assault and running a criminal enterprise.

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