US gymnasts testify before Congress about FBI's Nassar investigation

By Melissa Mahtani, Melissa Macaya, Meg Wagner and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 5:14 PM ET, Wed September 15, 2021
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10:05 a.m. ET, September 15, 2021

NOW: Senate judiciary committee holds hearing on FBI's handling of Nassar investigation

From CNN's Tierney Sneed

Pool
Pool

The Senate Judiciary Committee is hearing testimony today from four elite gymnasts — Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Maggie Nichols and Aly Raisman — who say they were abused by Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics team doctor who is now serving a several-decade prison sentence.

The hearing is examining how the FBI mishandled its investigation into the Nassar allegations, which were first brought to the agency in July 2015. Several violations of protocols led to months of delay, as captured in a scathing Justice Department inspector general report released in July.

While the federal investigation languished, Nassar abused scores of victims, the inspector general report said.

FBI officials "failed to respond to the Nassar allegations with the utmost seriousness and urgency that they deserved and required, made numerous and fundamental errors when they did respond to them, and violated multiple FBI policies," the report stated.

Read more about today's hearing here.

10:05 a.m. ET, September 15, 2021

Nassar makes minimum payments to his victims, despite having thousands of dollars in his prison account

From CNN's Christina Carrega and Amir Vera

Disgraced former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, who is currently serving a decades-long sentence in federal prison for sexual abuse, has been delinquent in his payments toward court-ordered criminal penalties, according to a new court filing.

A motion filed July 28 by the US Justice Department said that since Nassar's incarceration, he had received deposits into his inmate trust account that reached $12,825, including two stimulus checks totaling $2,000.

As of July 28, Nassar had $2,041.57 in his account, according to the motion. It is unclear where the additional money – more than $10,000 – went.

In addition, he was sentenced on Jan. 24, 2018, to up to 175 years in Michigan state prison after pleading guilty to seven counts of criminal sexual conduct. At the sentencing, 156 victims spoke, recounting similar stories of how they went to Nassar to receive treatment for sports injuries only to be sexually assaulted and told it was a form of treatment.

He is currently serving his federal sentence in the US Penitentiary in Sumterville, Florida.

Despite having money in his account, Nassar has only paid $300 toward the more than $62,000 he was ordered to pay, according to the motion. He was ordered to pay $57,488.52 in restitution to five victims in the child pornography case, along with an extra $5,000 for a special assessment fee pursuant to the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015, the motion read.

All of Nassar's payments toward his restitution have been "in the form of the minimum $25.00 quarterly payments based on his participation" in the Inmate Financial Responsibility Program, the motion said.

"In other words, Nassar has paid approximately $8.33 toward his criminal monetary penalties per month," the motion said.

The motion requests that the court order the Bureau of Prisons to turn over the funds in his account, up to $62,488.52, to be applied to his outstanding restitution and special assessment debt.

Included with the motion was a letter from the US Marshal Service on July 22 to the warden at US Penitentiary Colemen II in Sumterville, requesting that "all outbound financial transactions and withdrawals from his trust account be frozen pending further order of this Court," the motion reads.

The Bureau of Prisons told CNN that it "is committed to taking all appropriate steps to help ensure that inmates meet their financial obligations, including court-ordered payments to compensate victims. As part of that process, it regularly analyzes and monitors inmate accounts. BOP also partners with other law enforcement agencies and regularly notifies relevant authorities – such as the U.S. Marshals and US Attorneys' offices – when it identifies funds that are appropriately subject to seizure. BOP took such steps here. As reflected on the public docket, the government has asked the court to order that all funds in an inmate's account be turned over to satisfy a restitution judgment. The BOP will continue to examine its policies in an effort to do all it can to help ensure that inmates meet their fundamental financial obligations."

Read the full story here.

CNN's Evan Perez, Devan Cole and Tierney Sneed contributed to this report.

9:50 a.m. ET, September 15, 2021

The gymnasts testifying today have previously spoken out about abuse from Nassar

From CNN's Tierney Sneed

Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman listens to testimony during a Senate Commerce subcommittee hearing in Washington, DC, July 2018.
Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman listens to testimony during a Senate Commerce subcommittee hearing in Washington, DC, July 2018. Susan Walsh/AP

The gymnasts testifying today have all previously spoken publicly about being the victims of former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar's abuse. Nassar, who also worked for Michigan State University, touched athletes inappropriately under the guise of performing medical treatments on them.

Simone Biles — a winner of seven Olympic medals, as well as several world and national championships — revealed this year that she was motivated to compete in the Tokyo Summer Olympics in part because it would force the sport to confront its shortcomings in protecting its athletes.

"I feel like if there weren't a remaining survivor in the sport, they would've just brushed it to the side," Biles told NBC's Hoda Kotb. "But since I'm still here, and I have quite a social media presence and platform, they have to do something."

Aly Raisman — who won Olympic medals in 2012 and 2016 — has also been vocal in criticizing how Nassar and others were allowed to get away with abusing gymnasts for so long, telling CNN's "New Day" in March:

"Monsters don't thrive for decades without the help of people."

Raisman, fellow Olympian McKayla Maroney and Maggie Nichols, who competed on the USA's 2015 world championship team, all made public statements in the court proceedings against Nassar.

Nichols reported Nassar to US Gymnastics in 2015, alleging that his inappropriate touching started when she was 15 and that he also sent her Facebook messages complimenting her looks.

They will now be speaking to the Senate as lawmakers pressure the Justice Department to take more steps to address the lapses in its Nassar investigation.

9:28 a.m. ET, September 15, 2021

Report: Ahead of the hearing, FBI fires agent accused of failing to properly investigate Larry Nassar

From CNN's Paul LeBlanc

Larry Nassar appears in court for a plea hearing in Lansing, Michigan in November 2017.
Larry Nassar appears in court for a plea hearing in Lansing, Michigan in November 2017. Paul Sancya/AP

The FBI has fired an agent who is accused of failing to launch a proper investigation into former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

The agent, Michael Langeman, lost his job last week, two people familiar with the matter told the Post. Langeman was a supervisory special agent in the FBI's Indianapolis office and had interviewed star gymnast McKayla Maroney in 2015 about her allegations of sexual abuse against Nassar.

According to the Post, Langeman is among the unnamed FBI officials described in a scathing report this summer from the Justice Department's inspector general. The report found the agents investigating allegations of sexual abuse by Nassar had violated the FBI's policies by making false statements and failing to properly document complaints by the accusers, resulting in a delay in the probe into the claims.

The revelation came the night before four US gymnastics stars — Maroney, Simone Biles, Maggie Nichols and Aly Raisman — are set to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee during a hearing about the FBI's handling of the investigation. 

Read more here.

9:36 a.m. ET, September 15, 2021

Simone Biles and other elite gymnasts will testify soon

From CNN's Paul LeBlanc

Loic Venance/AFP/Getty Images
Loic Venance/AFP/Getty Images

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hear testimony at 10 a.m. ET from four US gymnastics during a hearing about the FBI's handling of the sex abuse investigation of former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.

Here's who is testifying in the hearing's first panel:

  • Simone Biles
  • McKayla Maroney
  • Maggie Nichols
  • Aly Raisman

Here's who is testifying in the hearing's second panel:

  • Inspector General Michael Horowitz
  • FBI Directory Chris Wray will appear before the committee.

Testimony from the elite gymnasts follows a scathing report this summer from the Justice Department's inspector general that found FBI officials investigating allegations of sexual abuse by Nassar had violated the agency's policies by making false statements and failing to properly document complaints by the accusers, resulting in a delay in the probe into the claims.

All four gymnasts have said publicly that they were abused by Nassar.

The Office of the Inspector General found that senior officials in the FBI Indianapolis Field Office had failed to respond to the Nassar allegations with the utmost seriousness and urgency that they deserved and required, made numerous and fundamental errors when they did respond, and violated multiple FBI policies when undertaking their investigative activity.

The probe was opened in 2018 to see whether the FBI and its field offices had dragged their feet to respond to allegations of sexual assault made by gymnasts and the USA Gymnastics organization in 2015 and 2016.