Friday, October 15, 2021

Sister Survivors testify against FBI at Senate hearing

September 15, 2021
The courtroom claps after six-time Olympic medal winner Aly Raisman addressed Ex-MSU and USA Gymnastics Dr. Larry Nassar in her statement on the fourth day of Nassar's sentencing on Jan. 19, 2018 at the Ingham County Circuit Court in Lansing. (Nic Antaya | The State News)
The courtroom claps after six-time Olympic medal winner Aly Raisman addressed Ex-MSU and USA Gymnastics Dr. Larry Nassar in her statement on the fourth day of Nassar's sentencing on Jan. 19, 2018 at the Ingham County Circuit Court in Lansing. (Nic Antaya | The State News) —

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing regarding the FBI’s handling of the Larry Nassar investigation this morning. Four Sister Survivors, Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Maggie Nichols and Aly Raisman, testified as the first panel of witnesses.

According to the Office of Inspector General, or OIG’s, report, the main finding was the FBI field branch of Indianapolis “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.” 

Biles and the other witnesses experienced these failures firsthand, and spoke of them in their statements.

“In reviewing the OIG’s report, it truly feels like the FBI turned a blind eye to us,” Biles said. “A message needs to be sent. If you allow a predator to harm children, the consequences will be swift and severe. Enough is enough.”

The Sister Survivors recalled being interviewed at young ages by mostly male FBI agents who lacked sympathy for the details they shared.

“This conduct by these FBI agents, including the Special Agent in Charge, who are held in high regard and expected to protect the public is unacceptable,” Nichols said. “Unacceptable, disgusting and shameful.”

Senators empathized with the survivors and pushed the second panel of witnesses, representatives from the FBI, for answers on why failures occurred during the investigation.

FBI Director Christopher Wray promised a change in policy, enhanced accountability and care with the bureau’s handling of these types of cases. FBI Inspector General Michael Horowitz echoed Wray’s statements while also reviewing his report.

“It’s my commitment to you that I and my entire senior leadership team are going to make damn sure everybody at the FBI remembers what happened here in heartbreaking detail,” Wray said, addressing survivors of sexual assault. “We need to remember the pain that occurred when our folks failed to do their jobs.”

Maroney addressed the senators in her initial statement, encouraging them to look further into the procedural failures by asking why the agents involved in the investigation would fail to properly document evidence.

“These questions remain unanswered,” Maroney said. “The survivors of Larry Nassar have a right to know why their well-being was placed in jeopardy by these individuals who chose not to do their jobs.”

Raisman expressed the urgency in her statement to the senators.

“If we don’t do all we can to get these facts, the problems we are here to address will persist,” Raisman said. “We are deluding ourselves if we think other children can be spared the institutionalized tolerance and normalization of abuse that I and so many others had to endure.”

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