Tue. Oct 19th, 2021

United States Olympic gymnast Simone Biles has blown up American gymnastics and the FBI for assisting while team doctor Larry Nassar assaulted her and hundreds of other athletes in the largest case of sexual abuse in the history of American sports.

“We have failed and we deserve answers,” Biles said during a public hearing in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday when she appeared with three other athletes, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Maggie Nichols.

“It really feels like the FBI has turned a blind eye to us,” said Biles, who placed an additional blame at the feet of lawmakers overseeing congressional-sponsored U.S. Olympic governing bodies.

Maroney confirms Biles’ accusations and tells how she “told my whole story of abuse in the summer of 2015 to the FBI. Not only did the FBI report my abuse, but when they finally documented my report 17 months later, they made completely untrue allegations about what I said. ”

When she told of the abuse that happened at the World Championships in Tokyo in 2011, where she said Nassar gave her a sleeping pill and then ‘came on top of me and molested me for hours’, she telephoned with tears’ an FBI agent said.

The FBI agent then asked her “Is that all?” – a reply to the senate committee “was for me one of the worst moments in this whole process”.

Biles said she chose to testify “so that no girl will have to endure what I, the athletes at this table, and the many others who have suffered unnecessarily under the guise of Nassar of medical treatment for which we still endure today.”

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

The Inspector General of the Department of Justice, Michael Horowitz, issued a 119-page report in July outlining errors by law enforcement that could have perpetuated the abuse of Nassar for months. Nassar was convicted of sexual crimes in 2017 and 2018 and was to serve 175 years in prison.

Larry Nassar, former team of American gymnastics, pleaded guilty in November 2017 to charges of sexual assault [File: Rebecca Cook/Reuters]

Horowitz and FBI Director Chris Wray will testify at the trial on Wednesday. Wray will be sharply questioned as to why FBI agents who interrupted the investigation were never prosecuted for their misconduct.

Biles, the most decorated gymnast of all time, stunned the Tokyo Games in July when she dropped out from the team competition to a weak opening vault and then decided not to defend her overall crown. Biles returned to the competition a few days later to win a bronze medal in the individual balance ball match.

‘I undoubtedly believe that the circumstances that led to my abuse and could have continued to do so are directly due to the fact that the organizations created by Congress to oversee me as an athlete, the American Gymnastics and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Games. The committee could not do their job, “Biles told the senate.

The FBI’s investigation into Nassar began in July 2015 after US Gymnastics President and CEO Stephen Penny reported the allegations to the FBI’s office in Indianapolis and gave agents the names of three victims who were willing to be questioned. to become.

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

The office, then headed by Special Agent Jay Abbott, did not formally launch an investigation. The FBI only questioned a witness months later in September 2015 and could not formally document the interview until February 2017 – long after the FBI arrested Nassar on charges of possession of sexually explicit images of children in December 2016.

When the interview was finally documented in 2017 by an unnamed special supervisory agent, the report was filled with ‘materially inaccurate information and omitted material information’, according to Horowitz’s report.

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

‘It’s not just that the FBI did not carry out its work systematically and repeatedly. It is also the cover-up that took place when FBI agents made material false statements and fraudulent omissions, “said Senator Richard Blumenthal, adding that the Department of Justice had refused to prosecute the agents.

“My hope is that the Department of Justice, which was invited today and did not want to appear, will cheer you up by explaining why the lies of FBI agents did not lead to criminal prosecution.

Horowitz also said Abbott, who retired from the FBI in 2018, violated the FBI’s conflict of interest policy by discussing a possible job with the U.S. Olympic Committee while involved in the Nassar investigation.

Neither Abbott nor the other unnamed special surveillance agent who interrupted the Nassar investigation were prosecuted for their actions.

The FBI has previously called Abbott’s behavior “horrific”, saying the special investigating agent remains with the FBI but is no longer a supervisor and “no longer works on FBI matters”.

An Abbott lawyer said earlier in a statement that he was grateful to the prosecutors who brought Nassar to justice.

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

The following year, he was also sentenced to 175 years and up to 125 years, respectively, in two separate courts in Michigan for molesting female gymnasts under his care. Prosecutors estimate he sexually assaulted hundreds of women.

A former coach of the US Olympic Games with ties to Nassar, John Geddert, killed himself in February, hours after being charged with human trafficking, sexual assault and running a criminal business.

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