© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Gymnastics – Artistic – Gymnastics Training – Ariake Gymnastics Centre, Tokyo, Japan – August 3, 2021. Simone Biles from the United States in training. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner/File photo
By Sarah N. Lynch
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney on Wednesday told U.S. lawmakers she feels betrayed by FBI agents, after they failed to investigate former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, despite her telling them he had sexually abused her.
The FBI Director Chris Wray stated to the Senate panel that it was inexcusable that agents failed to investigate Larry Nassar, despite McKayla Maroney telling them that he had sexually abused her. He also announced that one agent “no longer works in any capacity for the bureau.”
Wray expressed deep and profound regret.
Maroney was one of four Olympians who, with Simone Biles and Aly Raisman, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee to explain the FBI’s handling of the probe.
Maroney described how she spoke to the FBI for three hours in 2015. She also recalled the sexual abuse that she suffered during London’s Olympic Games by Nassar. Maroney called him “more of an a pedophile than he is a doctor” in 2015.
It was not until July of this year, however, that she said the Justice Department inspector general revealed in a scathing report https://oig.justice.gov/sites/default/files/reports/21-093.pdf what the FBI actually did with the information she provided: Failing to document it for a year and a half, and misrepresenting what she told them about her experiences.
Maroney voiced anger, saying, “Not only didn’t the FBI report my abuse but they also documented it 17 months later.”
Wednesday’s hearing comes after the Justice Department’s Inspector General Michael Horowitz in July issued a scathing report https://oig.justice.gov/sites/default/files/reports/21-093.pdf which blasted the FBI for botching its investigation https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-justice-watchdog-release-report-into-fbi-probe-ex-usa-gymnastics-doctor-2021-07-14 in a series of errors that allowed the abuse to continue for months.
Many of the gymnasts were angry that FBI did not interview them immediately about the abuse they reported. After being finally contacted by the FBI, the gymnasts claimed the agents had tried to downplay how severe the abuse was.
Raisman spoke of his experience with the FBI agent, who tried to persuade him that it was not that severe.
It took me many years of therapy before I realized that the abuse that I suffered was serious and that it did matter.
Wray was also joined by Horowitz on Wednesday.
Horowitz claimed that Maroney was falsified by an agent, which could have jeopardized Nassar’s criminal investigation. He also provided false information that might have helped Nassar defend himself.
While the FBI did not name Langeman, Senator Richard Blumenthal identified him.
Langeman worked as a supervisory Special Agent in Indianapolis. There, he headed a task force investigating child sexual exploitation. According to an interview that he did with a local podcast in 2018, Langeman also served in this capacity.
Reuters couldn’t immediately get in touch with Langeman to comment.
In July 2015, USA Gymnastics’ CEO Stephen Penny informed the FBI of the allegations against Nassar.
The FBI’s investigation into Nassar was not officially opened by that office. It was led at the time by W. Jay Abbott (Special Agent in Charge). After interviewing one witness in September 2015 by the FBI, but before closing an investigation, an official document known as “302” was not created. This report, which is referred to as a 302, did not contain formal documentation of that interview. It came after Nassar, who was charged with possessing explicit sexual images of children, had been arrested in December 2016.
Horowitz determined that the FBI had filled the 2017 interview with false and missing information.
Abbott, who was a retired FBI agent in 2018, discussed a job opportunity with the U.S Olympic Committee during the Nassar investigation.
Nassar continued to abuse victims after the FBI delayed their probe. Senator Richard Blumenthal asked the four sportsmen whether they had any information about victims of abuse that occurred after July 2015’s disclosure to FBI.
They all answered “Yes,” they said.
They were not prosecuted by either Abbott or the other supervisory special agent responsible for the Nassar investigation.
Wray claimed that the case was twice presented for prosecution, and he declined to stand trial. But he did not question federal prosecutors about their reasoning.
Biles stated Wednesday that “we have failed” and that he deserved answers.
Raisman, meanwhile, expressed frustrations that more has not been done to investigate USA Gymnastics or the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee for covering up Nassar’s abuse for years.
“Why didn’t any of these organisations warn anybody? USAG and USOPC are known for enabling abuses by keeping a low profile. “Both organizations knew about Nassar’s abuse well before it was made public,” she stated.
USOPC released a statement saying it was “completely dedicated” to safety and well-being of athletes and that reforms have been implemented after it hired a law company to investigate.
USA Gymnastics has not responded to our requests for comment.
Nassar was found guilty of three different cases. One sentence could be up to 175years. According to his accusers, hundreds of female and male victims were harmed by him.