F.B.I. Mishandles Nassar Case, Victims Testify


Image of (L-R) Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, and former gymnastic team mate; POOL photo; credit Reuters

By Chloe Levy, Staff Writer

Several top-tier U.S gymnasts, including Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, and McKayla Maroney testified to Congress this month about the mishandling of the sexual abuse scandal that has rocked U.S. gymnastics for the last several years. Former U.S. National Team doctor, Lawrence Nassar, was convicted for multiple counts of sexual abuse of hundreds of young girls and women in his care.  A review of the investigation showed that the F.B.I. was to investigate the allegations, neglected to interview key witnesses, and failed to notify local law enforcement. At least seventy additional girls were added to Nassar’s victim list in the time it took for allegations to be taken seriously, according to testimony given. 

Biles said, “I blame Lawrence Nassar, but I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse.”

Wayne Hills High School freshman gymnast, Emily Sorrentino, said “I was surprised that something like that could ever happen, especially for so long.” 

McKayla Maroney told of one such incident when she and Lawrence Nassar were in London for the 2012 Olympics, where she won a gold medal. Maroney’s testimony included details of the abuse, “that evening, I was naked, completely alone, with him on top of me, molesting me for hours.” Maroney described years of abuse spanning from the 2012 London to 2016 Tokyo Olympics. She didn’t tell anyone until 2015 when she was 19 years old. It was during that time that she described her abuse to an F.B.I. agent in a three-hour phone call, meaning the F.B.I. has known since at least then. Maroney also said, “Not only did the F.B.I. not report my abuse, but when they eventually documented my report 17 months later, they made entirely false claims about what I said. They chose to lie about what I said and protect a serial child molester rather than protect not only me but countless others.”

According to F.B.I. Director Christopher Wray, the F.B.I. fired an agent who was involved in the early stages of the case, and who was the first to interview McKayla Maroney. He was “heartsick and furious” when he found out about the Bureau’s many errors in the case before he became head of the agency in 2017. Like so many others who heard of the abuse, Emily said “ I have gotten treatments for so many different things and like it made me think that I could have been one of those girls.”

Nassar is now serving what amounts to life in prison for multiple sex crimes. 

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