Olympic champions, heroes to young women and girls across the nation for their athletic achievements, on Wednesday served as champions for survivors of sexual abuse as they demanded accountability for those who enabled Larry Nassar, who abused them and dozens of others for years.
Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney and Aly Raisman, alongside fellow gymnast Maggie Nichols, recounted their experiences before the Senate Judiciary Committee, in the wake of a Justice Department Inspector General’s report that revealed how the FBI failed to act on their complaints. As a result, they said, Nassar – who once served as a doctor for USA Gymnastics – was able to continue his pattern of abuse against young women and girls.
“I don’t want another young gymnast, Olympic athlete, or any individual to experience the horror that I and hundreds of others have endured before, during, and continuing to this day in the wake of the Larry Nassar abuse,” Biles said, fighting back tears as she delivered her opening statement.
“How much is a little girl worth?” Biles asked, referencing the title of a book written by fellow survivor Rachael Denhollander. She asked government officials to keep that question in mind as they take action.
“No one at FBI, USAG or the USOPC did what was necessary to protect us,” Biles said, referring to USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee. “We have been failed and we deserve answers.”
“In reviewing the OIG’s report,” Biles continued, “it truly feels that the FBI turned a blind eye to us and went out of its way to protect USAG and USOPC. A message needs to be sent: if you allow a predator to harm children, the consequences will be swift and severe. Enough is enough.”
Maroney recalled her experience with the FBI, speaking to them on the phone for three hours because she was too sick to meet in person. She told the committee about how she answered all of their questions and discussed every instance of abuse she endured, in detail.
“After telling my entire story of abuse to the FBI in the summer of 2015 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, stating that she “was shocked and deeply disappointed” by what she had read in the inspector general’s report.
“USA Gymnastics in concert with the FBI and the Olympic Committee were working together to conceal that Larry Nassar was a predator,” Maroney said.
She also called out the Department of Justice for not taking action against the members of the FBI who failed her.
“Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco couldn’t even bring herself to be here today, and it is the Department of Justice’s job to hold them accountable,” Maroney said. “I am tired of waiting for people to do the right thing.”
A Justice Department official said Attorney General Merrick Garland has been on the West Coast with family for Yom Kippur. Fox News is told Monaco was in Washington, but she and Garland are set to appear before the same committee next month during an oversight hearing, and will be willing to answer these questions and others at that time.
“It is heartbreaking to think what you have been through,” committee chairman Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said, thanking the women for their testimony. He then asked what message they have for any young girls who are “suffering in silence.”
“Be kind to yourself,” Raisman said, explaining how she continues to have trouble coping with her abuse. “Just remember: I believe you, I support you. You are not alone.”
Maroney said hearing from other survivors has helped her heal.
Ranking member Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said he is pressing the Justice Department to prosecute the FBI employees who failed to take proper action against Nassar following the reports against him.
Later in the hearing, when Rep. Cory Booker, D-N.J., asked if any of the women had a message for the country, Raisman said she wanted to let people know how difficult it is for survivors to live with their trauma. Despite having competed in two Olympic games, Raisman said there have been times when she did not have the energy to stand in the shower or go for a short walk.
“Being here today is taking everything I have,” she said. “My main concern is I hope I have the energy even to just walk out of here.”
In the second portion of the hearing, Inspector General Michael Horowitz and FBI Director Chris Wary testified. Horowitz confirmed that as a result of his investigation, there were two FBI agents whose conduct was referred for a criminal investigation, but so far no prosecutions have resulted from this.
Wray denied having knowledge as to why no cases have been brought, saying this was “a decision by the Justice Department,” while noting that he fired one of the agents
“I have done what I can do, which is to have fired the supervisory special agent who is featured so prominently in the report,” Wray said, noting that the other individual, the special agent in charge, retired before the inspector general’s review concluded.
Moving forward, Wray said, he and his leadership team are determined to make sure that with the steps they have taken in response to this case, FBI members will be “learning from this so that it doesn’t happen” again.
Fox News’ Jake Gibson contributed to this report.