The hearings were spurred by a Department of Justice watchdog report in July documenting dozens of instances in which the FBI mishandled the Nassar case. The report raised serious questions about how the Justice Department and the FBI handled the case, and the missteps at the FBI between the time the allegations were first reported and Nassar’s arrest.
Elite gymnasts Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Maggie Nichols are scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday on the FBI’s handling of the investigation of Larry Nassar. The hearing began at 10 a.m. Eastern time.
Nassar, the former Olympic Team USA gymnastics doctor, is serving what amounts to life in prison — 40 to 175 years — after more than 160 women accused him of sexually abusing them under the pretense of medical treatment.
Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz and FBI Director Christopher Wray are also expected to testify Wednesday.
The inspector general’s investigation began following allegations that the FBI failed to promptly address complaints made in 2015 against Nassar. USA Gymnastics had conducted its own internal investigation; and then the organization’s then-president, Stephen Penny, reported the allegations to the FBI’s field office in Indianapolis. But it took months before the bureau opened a formal investigation.
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At least 40 girls and women said they were molested over a 14-month period while the FBI was aware of other sexual abuse allegations involving Nassar. Officials at USA Gymnastics also contacted FBI officials in Los Angeles in May 2016 after eight months of inactivity from agents in Indianapolis.
The inspector general’s office found that “despite the extraordinarily serious nature” of the allegations against Nassar, FBI officials in Indianapolis did not respond with the “utmost seriousness and urgency that they deserved and required.”
Biles, Maroney, Raisman and Nichols were among the first gymnasts. In her testimony at Nassar’s sentencing in 2018, Raisman said the Nassar’s “abuse goes way beyond the moment, often haunting survivors for the rest of their lives.”
“It is all the more devastating when such abuse comes at the hand of such a highly regarded doctor since it leaves survivors questioning the organizations and even the medical profession itself upon which so many rely,” she said.
In an interview on NBC’s “Today” show, Biles said Nassar’s abuse caused a deep depression, one of the factors that led to her withdrawal from most of the events she’d qualified for at the Tokyo Olympics.