"We deserve justice."
*Editor's note: This story contains graphic descriptions of sexual assault.
At yesterday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the FBI's handling of the Larry Nassar trial, gymnasts McKayla Maroney, Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, and Maggie Nichols gave scathing testimony against the Bureau.
Maroney tore into the FBI and the agents who "made numerous and fundamental errors" in handling abuse claims against Nassar, according to a statement from the Department of Justice's inspector general.
"By not taking immediate action from my report," Maroney said, "[the FBI] allowed a child molester to go free for more than a year. This inaction directly allowed Nassar's abuse to continue. What is the point of reporting abuse if our own FBI agents are going to take it upon themselves to bury that report in a drawer? They had legal, legitimate evidence of child abuse and did nothing ... I am tired of waiting for people to do the right thing."
She added, "What's even more upsetting to me is that we know that these FBI agents have committed an obvious crime. They falsified my statement, and that is illegal in itself. Yet no recourse has been taken against them. The Department of Justice refused to prosecute these individuals. Why? Deputy attorney general Lisa Monaco couldn't bring herself to be here today. It's the Department of Justice's job to hold them accountable."
"Because my abuse was enough," she declared, glancing around at her fellow gymnasts, "and we deserve justice."
Maroney told the committee the graphic details of the abuse she suffered, all of which she had shared with the FBI agent during her interview.
"I told him that the first thing Larry Nassar ever said to me was to change into shorts with no underwear, because that would make it easier for him to work on me, and within minutes, he had his fingers in my vagina," Maroney said. She went on to share other specific aspects of Nassar's abuse, including a situation in which he gave her a sleeping pill and how he was "naked, completely alone with him on top of me, molesting me for hours.
"I began crying at the memory over the phone, and there was just dead silence," Maroney testified. "I was so shocked at the agent's silence and disregard for my trauma. After that minute of silence, he asked, 'Is that all?' Those words in itself was one of the worst moments of this entire process for me to have my abuse be minimized and disregarded by the people who were supposed to protect me."
"What is the point of reporting abuse if our own FBI agents are going to take it upon themselves to bury that report in a drawer," McKayla Maroney says on the FBI's handling of the Larry Nassar investigation.— MSNBC (@MSNBC) September 15, 2021
"They had legal, legitimate evidence of child abuse and did nothing." pic.twitter.com/0sDHdLMj4E
The other three gymnasts added similar condemnations, according to CNN.
Simone Biles stated, "To be clear, I blame Larry Nassar and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse. USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic and Paralympic committee knew that I was abused by their official team doctor long before I was ever made aware of their knowledge ... It truly feels like the FBI turned a blind eye to us and went out of its way to help protect (the USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee). A message needs to be sent: If you allow a predator to harm children, the consequences will be swift and severe. Enough is enough."
Aly Raisman called for further investigation, saying, "Without knowing who knew what when, we cannot identify all enablers or determine whether they are still in positions of power. We just can't fix a problem we don't understand, and we can't understand the problem unless and until we have all of the facts."
And Maggie Nichols seconded her fellow survivors' claims that "the federal investigators did not immediately contact them after they reported the abuse," saying that she was not contacted for "more than a year."
"These questions remain unanswered, and the survivors of Larry Nassar have a right to know why their well-being was placed into jeopardy by these individuals who chose not to do their jobs," Nichols said. "The coverup of my abuse and the FBI's failure to interview me for more than a year after my complaint are well-documented in the OIG report. After I reported my abuse to USA Gymnastics, my family and I were told by their former president, Steve Penny, to keep quiet and not say anything that could hurt the FBI investigation. We now know there was no real FBI investigation occurring. While my complaints [were] with the FBI, Larry Nassar continued to abuse women and girls."
While FBI Director Chris Wray and Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz said they felt "heartsick and furious," Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal said that in this situation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation "became an enabler rather than an enforcer."
"We've all run out of adjectives to describe the monstrous, horrific, predatory, criminal conduct of Larry Nassar. We've run out of adjectives, but we haven't run out of action. That's what the gymnasts deserve," Blumenthal said.
Nassar is currently "sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison following similar accounts from more than 150 women and girls," according to The Week. It remains to be seen if action will be taken against the FBI agents accused of negligence and falsification by Maroney, Biles, Raisman, and Nichols.
We're so moved by the gymnasts' testimonies. Let us know your thoughts in the comments!