USA gymnasts Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Maggie Nichols and Aly Raisman testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday about the FBI’s botched investigation into abuse allegations against Larry Nassar.
Read their opening statements, as prepared for delivery, below:
Read the prepared testimony of Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz.
Chairman Durbin, Ranking Member Grassley, and Members of the Committee:
Thank you for inviting me to testify about the Office of the Inspector General’s (OIG)’s “Investigation and Review of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Handling of Allegations of Sexual Abuse by Former USA Gymnastics Physician Lawrence Gerard Nassar.”
Before I turn to our report, I want to recognize and acknowledge the many gymnasts who had the courage to come forward to report Larry Nassar’s abuses. This includes the athletes who shared their concerns with USA Gymnastics in 2015 prompting the referral to the FBI, the gymnast who went to the Michigan State University Police Department (MSUPD) in August 2016 that led to the MSUPD’s investigative activity and Nassar’s ensuing arrest, and the gymnasts who spoke with The Indianapolis Star that resulted in that newspaper’s exposé about Nassar’s abuses in September 2016. As the Committee heard in the testimony today from McKayla Maroney, Maggie Nichols, Aly Raisman, and Simone Biles, their persistence and strength continue to this day.
These gymnasts showed remarkable bravery by coming forward to detail the shocking sexual assaults that they had endured from a USA Gymnastics medical doctor (Nassar) at the same time they were competing at the highest levels for our country. And, as you also heard today, these athletes reported this abuse with the hope and the belief that their actions would save other young women and girls from the serial abuse that they had endured. Sadly, as our report indicates, the response of the FBI agents who received that information betrayed their law enforcement responsibilities and their duties to these victims. As our report further details, Larry Nassar’s abuses very well could and should have been stopped sooner, if appropriate action had been taken by the FBI in response to the courageous actions of these athletes. Not only did that not occur, but after the FBI agents’ inadequate and incompetent response came to light, FBI records were created that falsely summarized the testimony of an athlete who had spent hours detailing the abuses she endured, and inaccurately described the FBI’s handling of the matter. Further, when called to account for their actions, two of the agents lied to our OIG investigators.
Although the sexual abuses by Nassar, and the appallingly inadequate response by the FBI cannot be undone, these athletes’ commitment to justice and pursuit of accountability for all involved in this deeply tragic series of events will improve our institutions and help to ensure that federal law enforcement responds in an appropriate and timely way to reports of child sex abuse in the future. We have made a number of recommendations to protect against the failures that we outline in our report, among the most important of which is to ensure that child sexual abuse allegations are promptly reported by the FBI to state and local authorities to prevent further victimization in circumstances such as these. We were able to assess and address these failures only because of the courage of the athletes that spoke with us during our investigation. I thank them for their cooperation with our agents and their strength in coming forward. Because of their actions and bravery, critical reforms are being undertaken to ensure that events such as these do not occur again.
I also want to acknowledge the important work of this Committee, under the leadership of Chairman Durbin and Ranking Member Grassley, for holding today’s hearing. Additionally, in 2017, this Committee held a critical hearing on protecting young athletes from sexual abuse that informed the OIG’s investigation. I also want to recognize the significant investigative work of Senators Moran and Blumenthal and their report concerning Nassar’s abuses, which also was very informative during our review.