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US 'We suffered and continue to suffer': Simone Biles, elite gymnasts blast FBI over failing to stop Larry Nassar abuse

14:10  16 september  2021
14:10  16 september  2021 Source:   usatoday.com

Larry Nassar's prison funds must be turned over to victim restitution, judge orders

  Larry Nassar's prison funds must be turned over to victim restitution, judge orders A judge has ordered that Larry Nassar's prison funds be turned over to the government and put toward victim restitution, according to court documents filed Thursday. © Scott Olson/Getty Images CHARLOTTE, MI - FEBRUARY 05: Larry Nassar sits in court listening to statements before being sentenced by Judge Janice Cunningham for three counts of criminal sexual assault in Eaton County Circuit Court on February 5, 2018 in Charlotte, Michigan. Nassar has been accused of sexually assaulting more than 150 girls and young women while he was a physician for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University.

Gymnastics superstar Simone Biles through tears blamed the FBI, USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee at a Senate panel Wednesday for allowing disgraced former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar to abuse dozens of women and children. 

Simone Biles who is smiling and looking at the camera: United States gymnast Simone Biles testifies during a Senate Judiciary hearing on Wednesday. © Saul Loeb, AP United States gymnast Simone Biles testifies during a Senate Judiciary hearing on Wednesday.

“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," Biles told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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  Simone Biles will make mental health advocacy part of post-Olympics GOAT tour Simone Biles will make mental health advocacy part of her post-Olympics Gold over America Tour — aka GOAT — after her decision to opt-out of five of six Olympic gymnastics finals became the talking point in Tokyo. "I gave an outlet for athletes to speak up about their mental health and their well-being and learn that you can put yourself (as a person) first before the athlete." Biles told the AP it will also include a segment on the importance of taking care of your mental health that will be led by former UCLA gymnast Katelyn Ohashi.

“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. "We have been failed." 

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Fellow elite gymnasts Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Maggie Nichols also  testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the FBI's failures to investigate 2015 sexual abuse allegations against Nassar. 

All four gymnasts said they were victims of Nassar's abuse, with Nichols being the first athlete to bring a sexual abuse complaint about him to top officials at USA Gymnastics. 

During her testimony, Maroney slammed the FBI for falsifying her claims of abuse against Nassar. 

Simone Biles, Aly Raisman to testify before Senate on FBI's Larry Nassar investigation

  Simone Biles, Aly Raisman to testify before Senate on FBI's Larry Nassar investigation Elite gymnasts are set to testify before a Senate panel on the FBI's failure to properly investigate sex abuse allegations against Larry Nassar.All four gymnasts said they were victims of Nassar's abuse with Nichols being the first athlete to bring a sexual abuse complaint about Nassar to top officials at USA Gymnastics.

“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," Maroney said. 

“What is the point of reporting abuse, if our own FBI agents are going to take it upon themselves to bury that report in the drawer?" Maroney asked.

Raisman offered blunt words on the failures of the agencies when she spoke. 

“It was like serving innocent children up to a pedophile on a silver platter," Raisman said. 

Aly Raisman, Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney posing for the camera: U.S. gymnasts Aly Raisman, Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney and NCAA and world champion gymnast Maggie Nichols leave after testifying during a Senate Judiciary hearing on Wednesday. © Pool, Getty Images U.S. gymnasts Aly Raisman, Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney and NCAA and world champion gymnast Maggie Nichols leave after testifying during a Senate Judiciary hearing on Wednesday.

Nichols, like her fellow gymnasts, stressed that the lawmakers should hold accountable everyone involved in the failures and cover-up of Nassar's abuse.

USA gymnasts describe how FBI lied about their allegations against Larry Nassar

  USA gymnasts describe how FBI lied about their allegations against Larry Nassar Olympic gymnasts McKayla Maroney and Simone Biles ripped the FBI and the Justice Department in Senate testimony Wednesday for how FBI agents mishandled abuse allegations brought against Larry Nassar and then made false statements in the fallout from the botched investigation. © Getty Images "They allowed a child molester to go free for more than a year and this inaction directly allowed Nassar's abuse to continue," Maroney told the Senate Judiciary Committee after recounting the vivid details she provided the agent interviewing her about Nassar's abuse.

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

The Department of Justice inspector general released a stinging 119-page report in July that found Indianapolis FBI officials made false statements, failed to respond for months leading to more than 100 other gymnasts being sexually abused and exhibited "extremely poor judgment" in the handling of the allegations against Nassar. 

The report also said the FBI's Indianapolis field office failed to respond "with the utmost seriousness and urgency that the allegations deserved and required."

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., called the FBI's handling of the case "a stain on the bureau," while ranking member Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, called for more accountability into the FBI's actions. 

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Video: The Rush: Gymnasts deliver damning testimony about sex abuse, institutional negligence (Yahoo! Sports)

"If there's one thing the inspector general's report illustrates it is this: that we need to make sure the bureau is more effective and held more accountable," Grassley said. 

McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman sitting at a table: U.S. gymnasts from left, Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Maggie Nichols, arrive on Wednesday to testify during a Senate Judiciary hearing about the Inspector General's report on the FBI's handling of the Larry Nassar investigation on Capitol Hill. © Pool, Getty Images U.S. gymnasts from left, Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Maggie Nichols, arrive on Wednesday to testify during a Senate Judiciary hearing about the Inspector General's report on the FBI's handling of the Larry Nassar investigation on Capitol Hill.

FBI Director Chris Wray apologized to the four athletes for the  agency's failures and called the inactions of  its employees "totally unacceptable.”

"I'm deeply and profoundly sorry to each and every one of you. I’m sorry for what you and your families have been through. I'm sorry, that so many different people, let you down over and over again," Wray said. 

"And I'm especially sorry that there were people at the FBI who had their own chance to stop this monster back in 2015, and failed." 

The gymnasts also criticized the DOJ, saying the absence of Justice officials at the hearing suggested a lack of concern. The department declined comment when contacted by USA TODAY. On questions about why the FBI agents involved in the Nasser matter were not criminally charged for their inaction, the department has a long-standing policy not to elaborate on decisions to decline prosecutions.

Simone Biles, Naomi Osaka, Tom Brady Headline Time 100 Most Influential List

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Following the report, an unnamed supervisory special agent involved in the case was reassigned pending the completion of an internal FBI investigation. The agent, identified as Michael Langeman, has since been dismissed, Wray confirmed during the hearing. 

'FBI failed survivors': Massive systematic failures uncovered in DOJ's Larry Nassar report

After initial allegations of abuse were brought to light by former USA Gymnastics President Stephen D. Penny Jr. in July 2015, the report found the FBI field office in Indianapolis "conducted limited follow-up." 

The field office also failed to alert the proper authorities, the DOJ says.

The IG report specifically singled out former FBI Indianapolis Special Agent in Charge W. Jay Abbott for lying about the field office's handling of the Nassar allegations and for violating policy when he communicated with Penny Jr. about a potential job opportunity with the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Abbott retired from the agency in 2018. 

As the investigation languished, Nassar continued to work with gymnasts for more than a year. The report said that "according to civil court documents, 70 or more young athletes were allegedly sexually abused under the guise of medical treatment" during that time. An attorney for Nassar's victims alleges he abused at least 120 more women and children.  

a group of people sitting at a table: FBI Director Christopher Wray, right, and Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz testify Wednesday during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing about the handling of the Larry Nassar investigation of sexual abuse of gymnasts. © SAUL LOEB, POOL/AFP via Getty Images FBI Director Christopher Wray, right, and Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz testify Wednesday during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing about the handling of the Larry Nassar investigation of sexual abuse of gymnasts.

Inspector General Michael Horowitz said that the failures of the FBI employees were uncovered because of the athletes who spoke up. 

READ: Biles, Maroney, Raisman and Nichols opening statements before Congress

  READ: Biles, Maroney, Raisman and Nichols opening statements before Congress READ: Biles, Maroney, Raisman and Nichols opening statements before CongressRead their opening statements, as prepared for delivery, below:

“The OIG was able to investigate and identify these failures, only because of the courage of the athletes who spoke to our investigators," said Horowitz. "What they did was extraordinarily difficult. And I want to thank them for their cooperation and strength in coming forward and speaking to us.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki called the athletes who testified "courageous" and "brave" at a briefing Wednesday. 

"The Department of Justice has said that the FBI is promptly taking the steps outlined in the report to ensure that this can never happen again, which certainly the President supports that," she said.

Nassar's sexual abuse was publicly exposed in a September 2016 investigation by the Indianapolis Star, part of the USA TODAY Network. Nassar pleaded guilty to federal and state charges and was sentenced to more than 100 years in prison. 

Another FBI failure: Larry Nassar debacle is latest in string of high-profile breakdowns

In August, USA Gymnastics reached an agreement on a proposed $425 million settlement with more than 500 women who said they were sexually abused by Nassar, their coach or someone else affiliated with the sport.

Contributing: Tim Evans and Elizabeth DePompei, Indianapolis Star; Kevin Johnson and Rebecca Morin, USA TODAY

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'We suffered and continue to suffer': Simone Biles, elite gymnasts blast FBI over failing to stop Larry Nassar abuse

Angelina Jolie Says She Was 'Honored' to Meet McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman: 'I'm in Awe of Their Courage' .
McKayla Maroney and Aly Raisman were among those who testified on Wednesday's Senate hearing on the FBI's handling of the Larry Nassar investigation . On Thursday, the actress and director, 46, shared a photo of herself posing with some of the former and current athletes who appeared at the hearing to share their stories, including Maroney, Raisman, Maggie Nichols, Kaylee Lorincz, and Jessica Howard. "I was honored to meet with some of the brave US gymnasts who appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday," Jolie captioned the picture on her Instagram.

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