Updated Sep 15, 2021 - Politics & Policy

FBI apologizes to the U.S. gymnasts abused by Larry Nassar

Picture of Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Maggie Nichols and Aly Raisman

Olympic gymnast Simone Biles, from left, Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney, Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman, and Collegiate gymnast Maggie Nichols arrive for a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Bloomberg via Getty Images

FBI director Christopher Wray on Wednesday apologized to U.S. gymnasts abused by Olympic Team USA gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar for agency's mishandling of the investigation.

Driving the news: Wray made the comments after four gymnasts — McKayla Maroney, Simone Biles, Aly Raisman and Maggie Nichols — testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee and detailed how the FBI mishandled their reports.

  • Maroney told panel that the FBI "chose to lie about what" she said about the abuse she suffered at the hands of Larry Nassar and "protect a serial child molester rather than protect, not only me, but countless others."

What they're saying: "I am deeply and profoundly sorry to each and every one of you," Wray said while testifying before the committee.

  • "I am sorry that so many people let you down over and over again and I am especially sorry that there were people at the FBI who had their own chance to stop this monster back in 2015 and failed, and that is inexcusable, it never should have happened, and we are doing everything in our power to make sure it never happens again," he added.

The big picture: The hearing follows a report released in July that highlights the FBI's failures to properly investigate the allegations against Nassar, who is serving 40–175 years in prison for sexually abusing young athletes.

  • The FBI has fired an agent accused of failing to properly investigate the sexual assault allegations, Wray said.

Maroney, one of the over 160 girls and women who accused Nassar of sexual abuse, told the committee that after she read the FBI's report, she was "shocked and deeply disappointed" to find out that agents falsified her account. The gymnast said that she spoke for hours with FBI agents describing the abuse she endured.

  • "What I'm trying to bring to your attention today is something entirely disturbing and illegal," Maroney said. "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."
  • The FBI and other officials "sat idly by while dozens of girls continued to be molested by Larry Nassar."
  • "I am tired of waiting for people to do the right thing, because my abuse was enough and we deserve justice," she added.

All four gymnasts testifying Wednesday said they knew gymnasts who had been abused by Nassar after they reported the abuse to the FBI.

  • Raisman said agents told her "to keep" her reports "confidential and not tell anyone."
  • "I cannot tell you how horrifying it is to meet young girls who look up to me, who watched me compete in the Olympics, and tell me that they went to see Larry Nassar because of me and my teammate, because they wanted to see the Olympic doctor," Raisman said, adding that it "takes everything I have to work on not taking the blame for that because it is horrific."
  • The FBI and other officials "quietly allowed Nassar to slip out the side door, knowingly allowing him to continue his work ... and even run for school board. Nassar found more than 100 new victims to molest. It was like serving innocent children up to a pedophile on a silver platter."

Biles said during her opening testimony that she believes "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 Paralympic Committee failed to do their job."

  • "To be clear, I blame Larry Nassar and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse," she added.

Nichols said she reported her abuse to USA Gymnastics "over six years ago," adding that "in sacrificing my childhood for the chance to compete for the United States, I am haunted by the fact that even after I reported my abuse, so many women and girls had to suffer at the hands of Larry Nassar."

  • "For hundreds of survivors of Larry Nassar, this hearing is one of our last opportunities to get justice. We ask that you do what is in your power to ensure that those who engaged in wrongdoing are held accountable, under the law."

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