Abused USA gymnasts give evidence to the Senate Judiciary Committee

Members of the US gymnastics team, Simone Biles, Maggie Nichols, Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney have appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify about abuse suffered from former team doctor, Larry Nassar.  Nassar, who is serving an effective life sentence, was accused of sexual abuse by more than 330 women and girls at USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University.

The four women told the Committee they had ‘suffered and continue to suffer’ from the abuse they experienced and the subsequent failed handling by the FBI.

Simone Biles told the hearing, that Team USA and US Gymnastics both “failed to do their jobs” to stop Nassar sexually abusing her and almost 150 women and called for the agents involved to be prosecuted.  Former captain of the US Olympic Gymnastics teams, Aly Raisman said she was “still fighting for the most basic answers and accountability” more than six years after first reporting her abuse.  McKayla Maroney described the “silence and disregard for my trauma’ and that ‘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 hearing follows the July 2021 report from the US Justice Department which criticised the FBI for its investigation into Nassar and found delays and cover-ups by FBI agents. Nassar was able to abuse up to 70 athletes between the time the FBI first learned of the allegations, and September 2016 when he was fired by Michigan State University, after a police report was filed against him. The FBI initially interviewed only McKayla Maroney while declining to interview other women who had come forward. Two FBI officials subsequently attempted to cover up their errors.  W. Jay Abbott, the FBI agent in charge of the initial investigation, retired in 2018 and was not disciplined over his handling of the case. 

FBI director Christopher Wray also appeared at this week’s hearing and apologised to those present for the ‘reprehensible conduct’ and ‘fundamental errors’ detailed in the report.  He also admitted his agency had failed the survivors of Nassar’s abuse and pledged to prevent a repeat of the mishandling under his leadership.

Written by Michael Lee at Solicitor at BLM michael.lee@blmlaw.com

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