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Simone Biles Wants Answers About the FBI’s Larry Nassar Investigation

Elite gymnasts Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, and Maggie Nichols all testified before Congress on Wednesday about the FBI’s failures in handling the sexual abuse case against Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics team doctor. Nassar, who has pleaded guilty to multiple charges, is now serving a de facto life sentence of up to 175 years in prison for sexual abuse.

Biles, the first gymnast to speak, told the Senate Judiciary Committee that there is an “entire system” that still needs to be held accountable. “To be clear, I blame Larry Nassar and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse,” Biles said as she fought back tears.

“We deserve answers,” she added. “Nassar is where he belongs, but those who enabled him deserve to be held accountable. If they are not, I am convinced that this will continue to happen to others across Olympic sports.”

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Maroney, who recently opened up in an exclusive ELLE profile about the abuse she suffered as a young gymnast, accused the FBI on Wednesday of “lying about my initial report and for covering up for a child molester.” She first told the FBI about Nassar in the summer of 2015, relaying in a two-hour phone call how the pedophile doctor had sexually abused her for years.

She was just 13 years old the first time he molested her during a USA Gymnastics training camps. After, “he was like, ‘You know, to be a great athlete, we sometimes have to do things that other people wouldn’t do,’ ” Maroney previously told ELLE. “Basically, he was silencing me and saying, ‘This is what it takes to be great.’” Maroney said she would tighten her legs, and beg Nassar to work on other parts of her body. “We would be like, ‘No, don’t do that. We just want you to work on our backs, our shins, our feet,” she says. “And we’d be annoyed. We’d be mad. We all hated it.” Her teammates, including Aly Raisman (who also testified on Wednesday), discussed the abuse in uncertain terms. “We all talked about it in little ways,” Maroney says. “We never said, ‘We’re being molested,’ but we would say, ‘It’s like we’re being fingered.’ We’d even say it was time to go get fingered by Larry. But we were 13 and didn’t even know what being fingered was at the time. We were really young and naive from living in a gym.”

After the FBI called, it felt like someone was finally listening—like someone finally cared. But as she waited for something to happen, the abuse continued. From the time Maroney first talked to the FBI in 2015 and September 2016, when an Indianapolis Star exposé spurred a renewed energy into the bureau’s inquiry, at least 70 female athletes were molested by Nassar. A damning inspector general’s report from the Justice Department, released on the eve of the Tokyo Olympics in July, found FBI officials failed to respond to the allegations “with the utmost seriousness and urgency that [they] de-served and required” and “made numerous and fundamental errors when they did respond.”

At Wednesday’s Senate panel, Maroney said the agents involved in her case should be indicted. “They had legal, legitimate evidence of child abuse and did nothing. If they’re not going to protect me, I want to know who are they trying to protect?” she questioned.

“These individuals clearly violated policies and were negligent in executing their duties, and in doing so, more girls were abused by Larry Nassar for over a year,” Maroney continued. “To not indict these agents is a disservice to me and my teammates, a disservice to the system which is built to protect all of us from abuse.”

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Raisman, who called for an investigation of USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic committee, said on Wednesday that over the past few years it has become, “painfully clear how a survivor’s healing is affected by the handling of their abuse, and it disgusts me that we are still fighting for the most basic answers and accountability over six years later.” She recalled sitting down with an FBI agent, who told her that the abuse, “wasn’t that bad,” and said it took “years of therapy to realize my abuse was bad, and that it does matter.”

Maggie Nichols, the first athlete to bring a sexual abuse complaint about Nassar to top officials at USA Gymnastics, echoed her fellow gymnasts at the hearing and called for lawmakers to hold accountable all the many adults who failed them as children. “For many hundreds of survivors of Larry Nassar, this hearing is one of our last opportunities to get justice,” Nichols said. “We ask that you do what is in your power to ensure those that engaged in wrongdoing are held accountable under the law.”

FBI Director Christopher Wray, who testified after the four gymnasts, said that the, “kinds of fundamental errors that were made in this case in 2015 and 2016 should have never happened, period.” He also apologized to the women and said he is “deeply and profoundly sorry that so many people let you down over and over again.” Wray also said the FBI agent in Indianapolis who first interviewed Maroney “no longer works for the FBI in any capacity.”

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