US gymnasts slam FBI for failing to probe sex abuse - GulfToday

US gymnasts slam FBI for failing to probe sex abuse


(From left) Aly Raisman, Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney and Maggie Nichols leave after testifying at a Senate Judiciary hearing in Washington on Wednesday. AP

Gulf Today Report

US gymnasts McKayla Maroney, Simone Biles, Aly Raisman and Maggie Nichols excoriated USA Gymnastics, the US Olympic Committee and the FBI in powerful Senate testimony on Wednesday for failing to take immediate action over sexual abuse allegations against team doctor Larry Nassar.

Maroney told US lawmakers she feels betrayed by FBI agents, after they failed to investigate former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, despite her telling them he had sexually abused her.

Nassar, 58, is serving a life sentence after pleading guilty in late 2017 and early 2018 to sexually assaulting women and girls while working as a sports medicine doctor at USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University (MSU).

Hundreds of women — including Olympians, gymnasts and collegiate athletes — have accused Nassar of sexually abusing them over the course of his more than two-decade career.

"We have been failed and we deserve answers," said the 24-year-old Biles, a seven-time Olympic medalist and the most decorated gymnast in world championships history.

While condemning the inaction of the FBI, the gymnasts had harsh words for the leadership of USA Gymnastics and the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC).

Maroney-lawyerSenator Dianne Feinstein (R) speaks with Olympic gymnasts. AFP

"We suffered and continue to suffer because no one at the FBI, USAG or USOPC did what was necessary to protect us," Biles said.
Maroney, who won a team gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics, said she reported the abuse by USA Gymnastics doctor Nassar to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2015.

"They allowed a child molester to go free for more than a year," the 25-year-old Maroney told the Senate Judiciary Committee. "They had legal, legitimate evidence of child abuse and did nothing."

FBI Director Chris Wray told the Senate panel that the actions of the agents who botched the investigation are inexcusable, and he announced that one of the agents "no longer works for the bureau in any capacity." "I'm deeply and profoundly sorry," Wray said.

MaroneyMcKayla Maroney testifies during a Senate Judiciary hearing. Reuters

Maroney is one of four athletes, along with Simone Biles, Aly Raisman and Maggie Nichols, who testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee as it probes the FBI's mishandling of the investigation.

Maroney recalled how in 2015 she spent three hours on the phone telling the FBI the details of her story that her own mother had not even heard, including accounts of sexual abuse she endured during the Olympic games in London by Nassar, whom she described as "more of a paedophile" than he was a doctor.

Maroney-courtMaggie Nichols, Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney and Aly Raisman arrive to testify during a Senate Judiciary hearing. AFP

It was not until July of this year, however, that she said the Justice Department inspector general revealed in a scathing what the FBI actually did with the information she provided: Failing to document it for a year and a half, and misrepresenting what she told them about her experiences.

"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, with anger in her voice.

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