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Watch The Opening Statements from Olympic Gymnasts at Senate Larry Nassar Hearing

Nassar was previously sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison, after more than 150 girls and women said he sexually abused them over the past two decades.

MSNBC

The testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee looking into the FBI’s failure to act when it was notified of former USA gymnastic coach Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse claims has begun. Some of the most high-profile athletes involved in the case agreed to testify and their opening statements were read today.

In mid-July, an FBI report indicated that the Indianapolis FBI office delayed the arrest of Larry Nassar and mishandled the case after it was notified he was abusing several athletes. The report claims senior officials didn’t take any of the allegations seriously and failed to stop the abuse despite many coming forward with stories. This inaction led to Nassar having the time to abuse dozens of more athletes in the interim, and wasn’t stopped until investigative journalism from the Indy Star came forward detailing the abuse.

On September 15, 2021, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney, Simone Biles, and Maggie Nichols testified before the senate with powerful statements. The brave woman shared the impact the FBI’s inaction had on them in their powerful opening statements.

“I don’t want another young gymnast, Olympic athlete, or any individual to experience the horror that I and hundreds of others have endured before, during and continuing to this day, in the wake — of the Larry Nassar abuse,” Simone said in her testimony.

“To be clear, I blame Larry Nassar and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse. USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic and Paralympic committee knew that I was abused by their official team doctor long before I was ever made aware of their knowledge,” she said to the committee.

McKayla said the FBI agents “committed an obvious crime” in its mishandling of the investigation and accused the organization of illegal activity. “What’s even more upsetting to me is that we know that these FBI agents have committed an obvious crime. They falsified my statement, and that is illegal in itself,” she said. “Yet no recourse has been taken against them. The Department of Justice refused to prosecute these individuals. Why? Deputy attorney general Lisa Monaco couldn’t bring herself to be here today. It’s the Department of Justice’s job to hold them accountable.”

“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,” she 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.”

Aly Raisman told the committee that without an investigation into why USA Gymnastics and the US Olympic Committee chose to ignore the abuse reports, it’s “unrealistic” for anyone to “grasp the full extent of culpability.”

“Without knowing who knew what when we cannot identify all enablers or determine whether they are still in positions of power,” she said in her testimony. “We just can’t fix a problem we don’t understand, and we can’t understand the problem unless and until we have all of the facts.”

Maggie Nichols, a collegiate-level gymnast who also suffered abuse from Nassar, said that the FBI “created a false narrative” that allowed Nassar to retire, rather than be prosecuted.

FBI Director Christopher Wray spoke on the failures of the agency in handling the allegations and assault cases involving these brave women, making a promise to ensure members of the agency don’t allow this to happen again.

“I’d like to make a promise to the women who appeared here today and to all survivors of abuse. I am not interested in simply addressing this [as] wrong and moving on,” he began. “It’s my commitment to you, that I and my entire senior leadership team are going to make damn sure everybody at the FBI remembers what happened here in heartbreaking detail. We need to remember the pain that occurred when our folks failed to do their jobs. We need to study it. We need to learn from it. That is the best way I know to make sure that this devastating tragedy is never repeated.”

Nassar was previously sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison, after more than 150 girls and women said he sexually abused them over the past two decades, including the women who spoke to the Senate today.

Watch the full testimonies on CSPAN’s website, here.