WASHINGTON, D.C. (WLNS) — The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing this morning on how the FBI treated the Larry Nassar investigation.
The oversight hearing is examining how the investigation into Nassar was handled when the FBI knew of Nassar’s behavior 15 months before the Indianapolis Star wrote the whistleblowing piece that ended Nassar’s career and abuse.
Yesterday, an FBI agent accused of improperly handling accusations made against Nassar was fired.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin stated that Nassar abused at least 70 young athletes while the FBI “sat” on the case.
A number of big-name gymnasts testified today, including Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, and Maggie Nichols.
Each witness had five minutes to give their testimony, followed by questions from the committee.
Simone Biles spoke of how she never wants to see another gymnast in amateur sports be subjected to abuse again, and that is why she was testifying today.
“To be clear… I blame Larry Nassar and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse,” said Simone Biles.
Former agent Michael Langeman, who worked at the FBI’s Indianapolis office, interviewed gymnast McKayla Maroney in 2015 regarding her allegations of abuse against Nassar.
McKayla Maroney spoke that her statements were falsified by the FBI, calling for action from the Department of Justice, who was not present at the hearing.
“I am tired of waiting for the right thing because my abuse was enough,” said Maroney. “And we deserve justice.”
Maggie Nichols first reported her abuse six years ago, and Nichols stated that she and her family still received few answers as to why his behavior was not being addressed by the FBI or USA Gymnastics (USAG).
“From the day I reported my molestation by Nassar, I was treated differently by USAG,” said Nichols. “This hearing is one of our last opportunities to get justice.”
Aly Raisman’s testimony addresses that six years later, the FBI is not facing accountability.
“…and it disgusts me that we are still fighting for answers and accountability six years later,” said Raisman.
Raisman calls upon Steve Penny, a USAG President who diminished Raisman’s abuse.
Raisman also stated that Nassar’s resignation from USAG gave him access to 100 new victims, working at MSU, Sparrow, and even running for a school board.
“Why must we speculate when the facts are obtainable? When the stakes are so high?” said Raisman.
Durbin commended the survivors, citing that while he has been in many committee hearings recently, he has not heard testimonies as compelling as the ones he heard today.
The Department of Justice was not present, U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley and U.S. Senator Feinstein wrote the DOJ to get justice.
Other Senators continued to express their gratitude for the testimonies given at the hearing, including Ted Cruz, Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker and Jon Osoff.
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz mentioned his daughters, who are athletes, and how what happened to Nassar’s victim is “every parent’s worst nightmare.”
The director of the FBI, Christopher Wray is set to spoke later at a separate panel, along with Inspector General Michael Horowitz.
An additional panel spoke after the break, consisting of Wray and General Inspector Michael Horowitz, discussing the missteps of the FBI in the investigation.
Christopher Wray expressed his apologies, describing the FBI’s actions as inexcusable.
Wray noted that the Indianapolis agent responsible for not investigating the case and taking preemptive action retired in January 2018, so any sort of reprimanding could not occur within the FBI.
Inspector General Horowitz expressed his thanks to Biles, Raisman, Maroney and Nichols.
The agents who falsified the records additionally lied to the OIG investigators.
July 2015, Gymnastics officials said all of the girls were available to interview, but only Maroney was interviewed, the meeting was never documented.
“…after the agent’s failures came to light, records were created that inaccurately described their handling of the matter and falsely summarized the testimony that you heard of Ms. Maroney.” said Wray.
Following FBI inaction, MSU Police received a complaint from an unnamed gymnast. MSU Police then obtained a search warrant to search his residence.
Feinstein asked for the specific steps being taken in the last two months to ensure that what happened will not happen again.
Wray stated that the FBI agent who lied in the Nassar investigation was fired, as well as following Inspector General Horowitz’s recommendations, and how agents investigating cases involving abuse now are required to follow more stringent document reporting, additional training, and communication with supervisors.
It is believed that Nassar abused as many as 300 athletes.
This article will be updated as more info comes out of today’s hearings.