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McKayla Maroney: FBI made “totally false claims about what I said”

“What’s the point of reporting abuse if our own FBI agents bury this report in a drawer?” she added.

Maroney, Biles, Maggie Nichols and Aly Raisman were assaulted by Nassar, the former U.S. gymnastics team doctor who is currently serving decades in prison.

“It’s really like the FBI has closed our eyes and done everything they can to help protect,” Biles told USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, while holding back tears.

“A message must be sent: If you allow a predator to harm children, the consequences will be quick and severe. Too much is too much, ”she said.

Raisman called for further investigation into how the Nassar investigation was mismanaged and said the FBI pushed her to accept the Nassar plea deal.

“The officer diminished the significance of my abuse. It made me feel that my criminal case was not worth pursuing,” Raisman said.

Allegations regarding Nassar first came to the agency’s attention in July 2015. Several protocol violations resulted in months of delays, as a scathing report from the Justice Department’s Inspector General shows published in July.

As the federal investigation languished, Nassar abused dozens of victims, according to the Inspector General’s report.

FBI officials “did not respond to Nassar’s allegations with the utmost seriousness and urgency they deserved and demanded, made many fundamental mistakes when responding, and violated several policies from the FBI, “the report said.

Maroney identified herself as the gymnast described – but not named – in the report that spoke to the FBI about her allegations in September 2015. The agent who took her interview violated key FBI procedures and made false statements in a summary that the officer wrote about the interview more than a year later, according to the inspector general’s report.

She and others criticized the Justice Department for its decisions, according to the IG report, not to prosecute the agent as well as an FBI supervisor who was also accused of mismanaging the investigation and subsequently making false statements about it.

“After telling my whole story of abuse to the FBI in the summer of 2015, not only did the FBI not report my abuse, but when they finally documented the report 17 months later, they made completely false statements. on what I said, ”Maroney said. recalled.

Later in the hearing, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz noted that the false information could have compromised the criminal case against Nassar.

“The Department of Justice refused to prosecute these individuals. Why ? Maroney said, while calling on Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco for her absence from Wednesday’s hearing. “It’s the job of the Justice Department to hold them accountable. I’m tired of waiting for people to do the right thing, because my abuse was enough and we deserve justice.”

Senate Judicial President Dick Durbin noted at the start of the hearing how sports institutions have failed to protect athletes from abuse.

“It shocks the conscience when these failures come from the law enforcement agencies themselves,” Durbin said.

FBI Director Chris Wray said he felt “sick and angry” once he learned of the extent of the agency’s failures.

Yet he described the botched investigation as the product of “individuals” who “betrayed their fundamental duty to protect people,” rather as reflecting the agency as a whole.

“I want to let the public know that the improper conduct reflected in this report is not representative of the work I see from our 37,000 people every day,” Wray said, adding that these actions “discredit” the work of the employees of the FBI. who do the job “the right way”.

Wray has vowed to “make sure everyone in the FBI remembers what happened here in heartbreaking detail.”

Nassar pleaded guilty in 2018 to seven counts of criminal sexual conduct in a case brought by the Michigan Attorney General. He was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison, after more than 150 women and girls told court he sexually assaulted them over the past two decades.
In recent weeks, the FBI agent accused in the Inspector General’s report of failing to launch a proper investigation has been fired by the FBI, Wray confirmed. A supervisor who was also singled out in the IG report for breach of protocol and misrepresentation retired from the FBI in January 2018.

Gymnasts ready to express themselves

The gymnasts who testified on Wednesday have all spoken publicly of being the victims of Nassar’s abuse. Nassar, who also worked for Michigan State University, inappropriately touched athletes under the pretext of giving them medical treatment.

Biles – a winner of seven Olympic medals, as well as multiple world and national championships – revealed this year that she was motivated to compete in the Tokyo Summer Olympics in part because it would force the sport to face its shortcomings in the protection of its athletes. .

In her testimony on Wednesday, she said the one-year delay of the Tokyo games meant “living daily amid the reminders of this story for another 365 days.”

McKayla Maroney: FBI made “totally false claims about what I said”

“I am a strong person and I will persevere, but I should never have been left alone to suffer Larry Nassar’s abuse,” Biles said. “And the only reason I did it was because of the failures that are at the heart of the abuses that you are now being asked to investigate.”

Raisman, Maroney and Nichols, who competed on the United States squad for the 2015 world championship, all made public statements in connection with the legal process against Nassar.
Nichols reported Nassar to USA Gymnastics in 2015, alleging that her inappropriate touching began when she was 15 and he also messaged her on Facebook to compliment her appearance.
She said on Wednesday that important questions remained unanswered about why the FBI failed to properly document the evidence and what interest, as captured by the IG report, the supervisor had in working for USA Gymnastics.

“These questions remain unanswered, and the survivors of Larry Nassar have a right to know why their well-being has been endangered by these individuals who have chosen not to do their jobs,” Nichols said.

Maroney told the Senate committee the graphic details she shared with the FBI agent during her interview about the abuse she suffered.

“I told him the first thing Larry Nassar ever said to me was to change into shorts without any underwear, as that would make it easier for him to work on me, and within minutes he had his fingers in my vagina, ”Maroney mentioned. She recalled other specific aspects of Nassar’s abuse that she shared with the FBI, including a case where he gave her a sleeping pill and how he was “naked, completely alone with him on me, molesting me for hours. time”.

“I started to cry at the memory on the phone, and there was just dead silence.” Maroney testified. “I was so shocked by the officer’s silence and his contempt for my trauma. After that minute of silence, he asked: “Is that all? “Those words in themselves were one of the worst moments in this whole process for my abuse to be minimized and ignored by the people who were supposed to protect me.”

Bipartite anger at the Capitol

Wray and Horowitz’s appearance before the committee will be just the last time those responsible have come under intense questioning on Capitol Hill. During President Donald Trump’s administration, Wray – who was confirmed as director in 2017 – has repeatedly faced hostility from Republicans over the FBI’s investigation into campaign links with Russia.

More recently, Democrats grilled Wray over the FBI’s lack of preparedness for the Jan.6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

McKayla Maroney: FBI made “totally false claims about what I said”

Anger at Nassar has united lawmakers on both sides, as the FBI failure investigation enjoys bipartisan support.

“The FBI, including this children’s unit, has also put publicity and its image ahead of victim protection in this case,” said GOP Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa.

“Every person in authority who has turned a blind eye to the allegations of these young athletes is complicit in Nassar’s crimes, and each of them should be considered a predator,” said Senator Marsha Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee.

Lawmakers have also crossed the aisle to support legislation that seeks to hold universities accountable for failing to protect students from sexual abuse. Senators joined gymnasts on Wednesday in questioning why the Justice Department chose not to prosecute the FBI officials in question.
“It’s not just that the FBI didn’t do their job, consistently and repeatedly. It’s also the cover-up, the cover-up that happened afterwards,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut. “When FBI agents made material, false statements and misleading omissions referred by the Inspector General for criminal prosecution, those referrals were denied, without explanation. Without any public explanation at all.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with the aftermath of a sexual assault, there are organizations that can help. Please click here for more details.

This story has been updated with additional details.

CNN’s Paul LeBlanc contributed to this report.