© 2021 WUTC
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

4 Gymnasts Testify In Senate Panel Hearing On Bungled Sexual Abuse Probe

NOEL KING, HOST:

Four gymnasts, some of them retired, testified before the Senate yesterday. They said not only were they abused by former USA Gymnastics team doctor and convicted sex offender Larry Nassar, but that the FBI ignored them and lied when they reported the abuse. Here's NPR's Tom Goldman.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: When Simone Biles pulled out of several events at the recent Tokyo Olympics citing mental issues - remember the twisties? - the world wondered why. Yesterday on Capitol Hill, she offered a strong hint.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SIMONE BILES: The impacts of this man's abuse are not ever over or forgotten.

GOLDMAN: In 2018, Biles publicly revealed her abuse by this man, Larry Nassar, who's serving a de facto life sentence for his crimes. Biles, the most famous of Nassar's several hundred victims, hasn't said much since. She has spoken about the need to fully investigate the scandal, and it led her to a witness table before the Senate Judiciary Committee, where emotions were raw.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BILES: To be clear - sorry...

DICK DURBIN: Take your time.

BILES: ...I blame Larry Nassar, and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse.

GOLDMAN: Sitting next to Biles, 2012 Olympic gold medalist McKayla Maroney zeroed in on the FBI, the focus of the hearing. Maroney recounted how in the summer of 2015, she revealed the details of her abuse to an FBI agent on the phone. And then, as described in a recent inspector general's report, the bureau did nothing with her information for more than a year.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MCKAYLA MARONEY: I thought given the severity of this situation, that they would act quickly for the sake of protecting other girls. But instead, it took them 14 months to report anything when Larry Nassar, in my opinion, should have been in jail that day.

GOLDMAN: The report says Nassar abused more than 70 young athletes in that period when the FBI did nothing. At the hearing, FBI Director Christopher Wray apologized and said the failure to stop Nassar in 2015 was inexcusable. One of the agents in the IG report was fired. Another retired and escaped punishment. The gymnasts' testimony was dramatic but not new, nor was their call for investigation, not just of the FBI, but USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, organizations responsible for protecting their athletes. In a statement, the USOPC noted in 2018 it commissioned a comprehensive investigation that has led to reform, although some survivors maintain it was neither thorough nor independent. The FBI's Wray said the Bureau is doing everything in its power to make sure what happened in the Nassar case never happens again.

Tom Goldman, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF CORRE'S "REFUGE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.