Appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray apologized for the bureau's failure to properly investigate sexual abuse allegations against former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar.
Wray's testimony came after four of Nassar's victims — Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Maggie Nichols — described in stunning detail the abuse they suffered and the failure of the agency to take them seriously.
"I'm deeply and profoundly sorry to each and every one of you," Wray said in his opening statement. "I'm sorry for what you and your families have been through. I'm sorry so many people let you down over and over again. And I'm especially sorry there were people at the FBI who had their own chance to stop this monster back in 2015 and failed, and that is inexcusable. It never should have happened, and we're doing everything in our power to make sure it never happens again."
A report issued by the Justice Department’s inspector general in July concluded that the FBI made “fundamental” errors in investigating the abuse allegations against Nassar and did not treat the case with the “utmost seriousness,” including after the bureau was first made aware of them in 2015.
The inspector general estimated that about 70 girls and women were abused by Nassar between the time the FBI was made aware of the allegations and his arrest in late 2016. Wray was appointed to his post in 2017.
The report found that the special agent who interviewed Maroney in 2015 about her claims of Nassar’s abuse did not write up a formal report of that interview, known as a “302,” for 17 months. The special agent, Michael Langeman, was fired by the FBI last week.
The report also found that during the Nassar case, Jay Abbott, the head of the bureau’s Indianapolis office, was in talks with USA Gymnastics about getting a possible job with the Olympic Committee. Abbott retired from the bureau in 2018.
In his testimony Wednesday, Wray said those agents "betrayed" the FBI and "broke" the trust that the American people have in the agency.
He said the FBI has made "significant changes," adopting new training protocols and procedures since the inspector general's report was published.
Each of the gymnasts recalled her abuse and the FBI’s failings while speaking Wednesday before the panel.
"After telling my entire story of abuse to the FBI in the summer of 2015, not only did the FBI not report my abuse, but when they eventually documented my report 17 months later, they made entirely false claims about what I said," Maroney said. "They chose to lie about what I said and protect a serial child molester rather than protect not only me but countless others."
She added: “What is the point of reporting abuse if our own FBI agents are going to take it upon themselves to bury that report in the drawer?"
“It was like serving innocent children up to a pedophile on a silver platter," Raisman said in her testimony.
"We have been failed, and we deserve answers," Biles said through tears. "A message needs to be sent. If you allow a predator to harm children, the consequences will be severe. Enough is enough."
In 2018, Nassar was sentenced to a prison term of up to 175 years after more than 160 women came forward with allegations of sexual assault against him. He is currently in federal prison in Florida.
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