Simone Biles and Aly Raisman testify before Senate on Nassar investigation – live updates
By nafricx on September 15, 2021
Durbin explains that each witness will have five minutes to give their testimony followed by one minute of questioning by each sitting committee member. Simone Biles will be first to give her statement.
“Early in our meeting with the survivors, one of them asked the question and it has stuck with me since then since the very beginning of our investigation three and a half years ago, and the question was: Why was there more than one of us?” Kansas senator Jerry Moran says. “I do not know how to answer that question. I do not know a human being that I would not expect to report, if someone told them they were being abused to report to law enforcement, to officials, and yet time and time again, no one accepted that responsibility for these young women.
“Why was there more than one? And most recently we learned even the Federal Bureau of Investigation belongs on the list of those who failed in their responsibility, allowing for there to be more than one. More than dozens.”
“As a woman, we are inclined to listen more closely to believe these stories, because we have seen this type behavior before,” Tennessee senator MarshaBlackburn says. “It is really hard to imagine a scandal, however, that comes as close to the depravity of Larry Nassar. The young athletes who are with us today, trusted him. And he abused that trust, not once, but repeatedly. In the years since Larry Nassar’s evil has been outshone by the courage of these young women who have given strength to so many to go after what happened in these crimes. Many of these brave young women should be saluted. Every one of them saluted, for the positions that they have taken to stand up, to tell their stories and to go after justice for themselves and for their fellow athletes.”
Connecticut senator Richard Blumenthal lambasts the FBI in his opening statement, saying: “(The survivors’) pain was preventable. It was needless. the FBI’s failure to act had real human consequences. And that will be forever a stain on the FBI’s reputation. but even more so, the cover-up that occurred afterwards, because when those agents came under scrutiny, they actually manufactured statements. They lied about what survivors told them. The ultimate abuse of authority.”
“It should not be a survivor’s burden to continually seek justice and demand an end to their nightmares,” California senator Dianne Feinstein says. “That’s the job of our law enforcement agencies. And the FBI, candidly, must do better.
Texas senator John Cornyn goes on to add: “If allegations raised by well-known, world class athletes are not taken seriously by the FBI, what hope do other victims of sexual assault have? If this monster was able to continue harming these women and girls after his victims first went to the FBI, how many other victims have been able have escaped justice. Again, if they did so little in the investigation involving world class athletes, what hope could an average American have? What faith can they have in the system?”
Cornyn criticizes the FBI for a “failure of ethics, failure of competence and dishonesty”.
Iowa senator Chuck Grassley a Republican, is framing this as an institution-wide failure by entire FBI, not just the two agents directly involved.
“Disturbingly, the abuse occurred at the hands of someone who was entrusted with their medical treatment and wellbeing,” he says. “Brave survivors, now poised young women, are with us today and we welcome your testimony.”
He adds: “This is a serious problem at the heart of the FBI – not a case of a few errant agents.”
Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, Illinois senator Dick Durbin, opens with a strongly worded statement describing the FBI’s failures in the Nassar case a “a stain on the bureau” and adding that he is disappointed that the Department of Justice would not testify as to why agents weren’t charged with crimes for their “dereliction of duty”.
Welcome to live updates of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing on the Larry Nassar abuse scandal. Here’s some background from Reuters:
Olympic gymnasts Simone Biles and Aly Raisman will testify on Wednesday about the sexual abuse they suffered at the hands of disgraced USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, as the US Senate examines why the FBI failed to investigate his crimes sooner.
Biles and Raisman will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee alongside their fellow former Olympic teammate McKayla Maroney and former gymnast Maggie Nichols, who was the first victim to report the abuse to USA Gymnastics.
Horowitz will also testify on Wednesday as will FBI Director Chris Wray, who is expected to face sharp bipartisan questioning about why the agents who botched the probe were never prosecuted for their misconduct.
The FBI’s investigation into Nassar started in July 2015, after USA Gymnastics President and CEO Stephen Penny reported the allegations to the FBI’s Indianapolis field office and provided agents with the names of three victims willing to be interviewed.
That office, then led by Special Agent in Charge, W Jay Abbott, did not formally open an investigation. The FBI only interviewed one witness months later, in September 2015, and failed to formally document that interview in an official report known as a “302” until February 2017 – well after the FBI had arrested Nassar on charges of possessing sexually explicit images of children in December 2016.
When the interview was finally documented in 2017 by an unnamed supervisory special agent, the report was filled with “materially false information and omitted material information,” Horowitz’s report determined.
The office also failed to share the allegations with state or local law enforcement agencies.
“Children suffered needlessly because multiple agents in multiple offices at the FBI neglected to share the Nassar allegations with their law enforcement counterparts at state and local agencies,” ranking Republican Charles Grassley said in prepared remarks.
“Disturbingly, the abuse occurred at the hands of someone who was entrusted with their medical treatment and well-being,” he added.
Horowitz also said that Abbott, who retired from the FBI in 2018, also violated the FBI’s conflict of interest policy by discussing a possible job with the U.S. Olympic Committee while he was involved with the Nassar investigation.
Neither Abbott nor the other unnamed supervisory special agent who botched the Nassar probe were prosecuted for their actions.
The FBI previously called Abbott’s behavior “appalling” and said the supervisory special agent remains with the FBI but is no longer a supervisor and is “not working on any more FBI matters.”
An attorney for Abbott previously said in a statement he is thankful to prosecutors for bringing Nassar to justice.
Nassar, who had been the main doctor for Olympic gymnasts, was sentenced in federal court in 2017 to 60 years in prison on charges of possessing child sex abuse material.
The following year, he was also sentenced up to 175 years and up to 125 years, respectively, in two separate Michigan courts for molesting female gymnasts under his care. Prosecutors have estimated he sexually assaulted hundreds of women.