Caribbean Fever - Your ONLY destination to all things Caribbean and more
Simone Biles broke down in tears during Wednesday's Senate hearing as she recounted the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar and revealed how the FBI failed her and dozens of other victims by turning a 'blind eye' to the abuse.
The Olympic athlete, 24, called for the agents who failed to take action for more than a year after the abuse was reported to face federal prosecution as they enabled the sexual predator to continue to prey on dozens of young victims.
'To be clear, I blame Larry Nassar and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated that abuse,' she said.
Biles was joined by her fellow star athletes and Nassar victims McKayla Maroney, Maggie Nichols and Aly Raisman as they each gave damning testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee for its hearing into the FBI's botched probe into Nassar's sexual abuse.
Raisman delivered one of the hearing's most chilling lines, when she blasted the FBI for failing to properly investigate their initial abuse claims against Nassar, leaving him free to abuse another 120 children.
She said: 'Nassar found more than 100 new victims to molest. It was like serving innocent children up to a pedophile on a silver platter.'
The four women testified how they were made to feel the years of abuse they suffered 'wasn't a big deal' when they reported it to FBI agents, who then failed to investigate their allegations and then tried to cover-up their inaction when it came to light.
Such shocking failings enabled the predator to carry on his reign of abuse. Nassar abused a further 120 victims in the 17 months between July 2015 - when victims reported the abuse to the FBI - and December 2016 - when the pedophile was finally arrested on child porn charges.
All four women testified to lawmakers that they know of fellow athletes who were abused during this period when 'the FBI did nothing'.
They all demanded accountability with Biles saying the agents who failed them must 'at least be federally prosecuted to the fullest extent because they need to be held accountable'.
Senator Patrick Leahy, who had asked what accountability the survivors wanted to see, agreed: 'As a former prosecutor, I agree with that.'
Simone Biles broke down in tears Wednesday as she recounted the abuse she suffered at the hands of Larry Nassar during the Senate hearing into FBI's botched probe into the sexual abuse case
US Olympic gymnasts (L-R) Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Maggie Nichols listen to opening comments
Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney wipes away tears as she gives testimony (left). Maroney and Biles hold hands as they leave the hearing
Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Maggie Nichols, listen to opening comments during the Senate hearing
Biles and her fellow star athletes McKayla Maroney, Maggie Nichols and Aly Raisman were sworn in to the hearing Wednesday
The four survivors testified on Capitol Hill about the FBI's botched handling of its sex abuse investigation of Nassar
During Wednesday's hearing:
FBI Director Chris Wray issued an apology on behalf of the FBI as he and Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz were called to testify during the second panel of the hearing after the four survivors had given their emotional testimony.
Wray said the FBI agents 'broke the trust' of the victims and he said he was 'deeply and profoundly sorry to each and every one of you' for the actions of the agents who 'failed in their core duty of protecting people.'
He sent a message to the survivors saying he will make sure 'everyone at the FBI remembers what happened here in heartbreaking detail' to make sure it is 'never repeated'.
'I am not interested in simply addressing this wrong and moving it on. It's my commitment to you that I and my entire senior leadership team that everyone at the FBI remembers what happen here in heartbreaking detail,' he said.
'We need to remember that the pain occurred when we fail to do our jobs. That is what we need to know to ensure this tragedy is never repeated.'
He added: 'That was inexcusable, it never should have happened, and we are doing everything in our power to make sure it never happens again.'
Wray said the FBI has started implementing all of the recommendations made in the IG's report but admitted: 'I don't have a have a good explanation' for the bureau's failings.
Two other Nassar survivors joined the women at a press conference after the Senate hearing where one women revealed she was one of the 120 victims abused by the pedophile in the 17-month period where the FBI failed to act.
Kaylee Lorincz said she continued to be abused by Nassar for another year because agents at the FBI 'did not go their job' saying 'my 2016 abuse is on them.'
'My last appointment with Larry Nassar was Feb. 2, 2016 and that appointment should've never happened,' she said.
'I'm here speaking on behalf of the 120 victims who saw Larry after the FBI knew of his abuse in 2015 and failed to investigate, failed to take action and failed to protect.
Former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar in court in 2018
'Let me be clear, I should not be here. I was abused from 2011 to 2016 and my life has been forever changed.'
Lorincz demanded accountability and criminal charges for the FBI agents who failed to investigate Nassar.
'Where is the accountability for letting Larry continue to sexually assault little girls on your watch?' she asked.
'Where is the accountability for those at the FBI who chose to place personal gain ahead of their duties to protect and serve?
'Had anyone at the FBI done their job, then I would not be here speaking to you today. Accountability will only occur when the FBI agents who did not do their job face criminal charges. My 2016 abuse is on them.'
Senator Richard Blumenthal blasted the FBI in the briefing, saying: 'The FBI's inaction led to victimization of the most horrific and hideous kind.'
'There were 120 young women who laid before Larry Nassar on his examining table and he did with them whatever he wanted because the FBI did nothing,' he said.
Blumenthal also hit out at the Department of Justice for failing to show at the hearing.
'The Department of Justice today was a no-show. The Department of Justice failed to appear. They have responsibility ultimately for the FBI, for the prosecutions, and for action here,' he said.
Raisman said the no-show 'says to me that child abuse does not matter'.
The Senate hearing examined why the FBI failed to investigate Nassar, 58, for his crimes sooner, leaving the predator free to carry on his decades-long reign of abuse for more than a year after the allegations were first reported.
The FBI's handling of the case came under close scrutiny in a damning report by the Justice Department watchdog released in July.
McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisma, Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chuck Grassley (l-r) at a press conference after the hearing
At a press conference after the Senate hearing US Olympic gymnast Kaylee Lorincz (left with Maggie Nichols on right) revealed she was one of the 120 victims abused by the pedophile in the 17-month period where the FBI failed to act. Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and three-time National Champion Jessica Howard pictured at the briefing (right)
Horowitz's report found the bureau made a series of failures in its handling of allegations against Nassar when agents were first alerted to the abuse in 2015.
Special Agent in Charge William Jay Abbott for the FBI's Indianapolis office failed to formally open an investigation and then tried to cover-up his inaction by lying during interviews with the watchdog, the report found. Abbott retired from the bureau in 2018.
It emerged Tuesday that the FBI has now fired a second agent accused in the report of failing to launch a proper investigation into the allegations.
Michael Langeman, who worked as a supervisory special agent (SSA) and interviewed Maroney when she came forward with allegations in 2015, was ousted from his role last week.
Langeman did not properly document his interview with Maroney and failed to take action for 17 months, the report revealed.
Langeman was removed from his duties as an agent following the release of the report before his firing this week.
The report also found that the agents 'lied' and falsified records about the case and their handling of it when speaking to the watchdog investigators.
Neither of the agents have been charged over their handling of the case.
John Manly, an attorney for many of Nassar's alleged victims, said Langeman's firing is 'long overdue' but said the timing - just days before the Senate hearing - 'seems cynical'.
Wray and Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz are sworn in Wednesday to give testimony during the second panel of the hearing
Wray sent a message to the survivors saying he will make sure 'everyone at the FBI remembers what happened here in heartbreaking detail' to make sure it is 'never repeated'
Simone Biles said she was failed by the FBI, USA Gymnastics (USAG) and the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) in their handling of Nassar's abuse.
She demanded 'answers', saying she fears the same thing could happen to athletes in the future.
'I sit before you today to raise my voice so that no little girl must endure what I, the athletes at this table and the countless others needlessly suffered under Nassar's guise of medical treatment - which we continue to endure to today,' she said.
'We have been failed and we deserve answers. 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.'
Biles testified that, after reading the watchdog report, 'it truly feels like the FBI turned a blind eye to us and went out of its way to protect USAG and USOPC.'
Biles, 24, testified that she was failed by the FBI, USA Gymnastics and the Olympic and Paralympic Committee in their handling of Nassar's abuse and demanded 'consequences' for those who 'allowed the predator to harm children
'A Message needs to be sent. If you allow a predator to harm children, the consequences will be swift and severe,' she said.
Biles also testified about the toll the abuse had taken on her including most recently in the Tokyo Olympic Games this summer, where she pulled out of five final events for mental health reasons.
She told the committee how the delay to the Games due to COVID-19 meant she had 'another 365 days' of training in the gym and being reminded of the abuse.
'As the lone competitor in the recent Tokyo games who was a survivor of this horror, I can assure you that the impacts of this man's abuse are not ever over or forgotten,' she said.
'This meant I would be going to the gym, to training, to therapy, living daily among the reminders of this story for another 365 days.'
The athlete said she felt the 'burden' most when she traveled to Tokyo without the support of her family amid COVID-19 restrictions.
Maroney testified how she spoke to FBI agents for three hours in the summer of 2015 telling them her 'entire story of abuse' but they failed to take action - not reporting it for more than a year and, when they did, they made 'entirely false claims about what I said.'
Maroney, who took home gold and silver medals at the 2012 Olympics, said the FBI 'chose to fabricate' the narrative to 'protect a serial child molester and not protect me.'
'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,' she said.
'I was shocked and deeply disappointed at this narrative they chose to fabricate.
'They chose to lie about what I said and protect a serial child molester rather than protect not only me but countless others.'
She recounted how she had not even confided in her mother at this point but told the agents in 'extreme detail' over the phone about multiple incidents of abuse.
McKayla Maroney testified how she spoke to FBI agents for three hours in the summer of 2015 telling them her 'entire story of abuse' but they failed to take action
'I was too sick to go to anyone in person and speaking about the abuse would give me PTSD for days,' she said, adding that she sat on 'my bedroom floor for three hours' speaking on the phone about the abuse.
'I disclosed all the molestations in extreme detail,' she said.
Maroney testified that the agent asked if Nassar 'helped me' when he inserted his fingers into her vagina during their first meeting when she was sent to him with a sports injury.
'I told them that the first thing Larry Nassar ever said to me was to change into shorts with no underwear because that would make it easier for him to work on me, and within minutes, he had his fingers in my vagina,' Maroney said.
'The FBI then immediately asked, 'Did he insert his fingers into your rectum?' I said, 'No, he never did.' They asked if he used gloves. I said, 'No, he never did.'
'They asked if this treatment ever helped me. I said, 'No, it never did.' This treatment was 100 percent abuse and never gave me any relief.
Maroney described breaking down in tears on the phone as she went into graphic detail about the abuse only for the agents to 'minimize and disregard' her experience and ask: 'is that all?'
'I began crying over the phone, and there was just silence. I was so shocked by the agents' silence and disregard for my trauma and after a minute of silence he just said: is that all?' she said.
'Those words in itself was one of the worst moments of this entire process for me.
Maroney reveals FBI agents asked her if Larry Nassar 'helped me' when he molested her the first time she met the doctor and asked 'is that all?' as she broke down in tears during three-hour 2015 interview that they failed to document
'To have my abuse be minimized and disregarded by the people who were supposed to protect me, just to feel like my abuse was not enough... but the truth is my abuse was enough and they wanted to cover it up.'
Maroney joined Biles in calling for the federal agents responsible for ignoring Nassar's crimes to be indicted on charges.
'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 told lawmakers.
She added that the falsification of her statement on the abuse is 'an obvious crime' and questioned by the DOJ was refusing to prosecute the agents involved.
'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. Yet no recourse has been taken against them. The Department of Justice refused to prosecute these individuals. Why?' she said.
'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 added: '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.'
Raisman, who was captain of the 2012 'Fierce Five' women's women's Olympic gymnastics team that earned a gold medal, said it 'disgusts me' that they are 'still fighting' for accountability years later.
'We are still fighting for the most basic answers and accountability over six years later,' she said.
Raisman said authorities knew of at least six victims in 2015 but continued to serve 'innocent children up to a pedophile on a platter.'
'In 2015 it was known that at least six national team athletes had been abused by Nassar. There was even one of the athletes that was abused on film,' she said.
'Given our abuser's unfettered access to children, stopping him should have been a priority.
'Instead, the following occurred: The FBI failed to interview pertinent parties in a timely manner.
'It took over 14 months for the FBI to contact me despite my many requests to be interviewed by them.'
Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman closes her eyes and puts her head in her hands as Maroney gives testimony to the committee
When agents finally spoke with her about the abuse, Raisman said they tried to 'convince me that it wasn't that bad.'
'I remember sitting with the FBI agent and him trying to convince me that it wasn't that bad. It's taken me years of therapy to realize that my abuse was bad, that it does matter,' she said.
As well as the FBI, Raisman said the USAG and USOPC also have a 'long history of enabling abuse by turning a blind eye - both organizations knew of Nassar's abuse long before it became public.'
Raisman told the committee she also felt 'pressured by the FBI to consent to Nassar's plea deal.'
The former gymnast called for an independent investigation into the FBI, USAG and the USOPC so that 'from there, then we will know the answers of who should be held accountable.'
Nichols, who was the very first victim to report the abuse suffered at the hands of Nassar, said the FBI took more than a year to contact her after she first reported it and that - six years on from making her first complaint - she is still waiting for 'answers.'
She also testified that USA Gymnastics tried to cover up the abuse as well, telling her to 'keep quiet.'
After I reported my abuse to USA Gymnastics, my family and I were told by their former president, Steve Penny, to keep quiet and not say anything that could hurt the FBI investigation,' she said.
'We now know there was no real FBI investigation occurring. While my complaints [were] with the FBI, Larry Nassar continued to abuse women and girls.'
Nichols said she was first abused by Nassar when she was just 15 and told how the predator also sent her messages on social media about her appearance.
She said she went to USA Gymnastics to report the abuse in 2015 and 'my Olympics dreams ended.'
Maggie Nichols told the Senate hearing that - six years on from reporting the abuse in 2015 - she is still waiting for answers
FBI Director Christopher Wray stunned a Senate hearing into Larry Nassar's sex abuse of top athletes after saying, 'I don't have a good answer for you,' over why his bureau botched the case.
'The actions and inactions of the FBI employees detailed in this report are completely unacceptable,' he said.
'These individuals betrayed the core duty they have of protecting people, they failed to protect these young women and girls from sexual abuse.'
He spoke as it was revealed Michael Langeman, who worked as a supervisory special agent (SSA) in the FBI's Indianapolis office and interviewed victim McKayla Maroney when she came forward with allegations in 2015, was ousted from his role last week.
Wray also sought to distance himself from the probe at the very start of questioning, highlighting that he was only appointed in 2017 - the year after the bureau's initial investigation into Nassar was wrapped up.
'I wish I could wave a magic wand to change what happened in 2015 and 2016,' Wray said when questioned by senators. 'We have to earn the people's trust back.'
Wray continued: 'The actions and inactions of the FBI employees detailed in this report are completely unacceptable.
'These individuals betrayed the core duty they have of protecting people, they failed to protect these young women and girls from sexual abuse.
'The kinds of fundamental errors that were made in this case in 2015 and 2016 should never have happened.
'In this case, certain FBI agents broke that trust repeatedly and inexcusably, and to pretend otherwise would be one more insult to survivors.
'I want the public to know that the reprehensible conduct reflected in this report is not representative of the work I see from our 37,000 folks every day.' My Olympic dreams ended in the summer of 2015 when my coach and I reported Larry Nassar's abuse to USAG leadership,' she told lawmakers.
'I reported my abuse to USA Gymnastics over six years ago, and so my family and I received few answers and have even more questions about how this was allowed to occur and dozens of other little girls and women at Michigan State had to be abused after I reported.'
She added: 'In sacrificing my childhood for the chance to compete for the United States, I am haunted by the fact that even after I reported my abuse, so many women and girls had to suffer at the hands of Larry Nassar.'
Nichols said the survivors 'have a right to know why their well being was placed in jeopardy by these individuals who chose not to do their jobs.'
'For many hundreds of survivors of Larry Nassar, this hearing is one of our last opportunities to get justice,' she said.
Biles, Raisman, Nichols and Maroney sat side by side during the panel as they gave their testimony to the committee.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin told the four women 'you were all gold medalists today in the pursuit of justice.'
He had introduced the four star athletes at the start of the hearing saying they are 'star athletes... and they are also survivors.'
Durbin said at the start of the hearing that the FBI's failures in protecting athletes 'shock the conscience', as he noted the inspector general's findings 'paint a shocking picture of FBI dereliction of duty and gross incompetence.'
'It shocks the conscience when those failures come from law enforcement itself,' Durbin said.
'Our focus today is on the FBI, how did it fail, so badly, when it came to Nassar's victims, and what are FBI leaders doing today to ensure this never happens again.'
The failings helped to enable Nassar as he used the 'competitive nature of sport to hide in plain sight.'
He described the FBI's inaction as 'a stain on the bureau'.
'The FBI's handling of this case has done nothing to reassure survivors that they will be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve,' he said.
Durbin said he was committed to trying to prevent similar events from happening and pursuing legislation to hold abusers like Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics team doctor, accountable and 'provide justice to survivors.'
US Senator Jerry Moran asked 'why was there more than one' victim of Nassar, 'more than dozens' - given that victims reported his crimes to authorities.
All four women told the hearing that they know of athletes who were abused in the 13-month period between July 2015 and August 2016 when 'the FBI did nothing'
A survivor wipes away tears during the hearing on Capitol Hill where the victims spoke of the abuse they suffered
Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin said at the start of the hearing how 'it shocks the conscience' that the FBI failed the victims
The DOJ Inspector General released its scathing report in July into the FBI's handling of allegations against Nassar.
It found that two FBI field offices in Indianapolis and Detroit failed to take initial allegations seriously when they were first raised.
The report condemned William Jay Abbott, the former Special Agent in Charge of the bureau's Indianapolis field office, and an unnamed supervisory special agent (SSA) for failing to take action when they learned of the alleged abuse.
Abbott was alerted to Nassar's sickening abuse of young athletes in July 2015.
USA Gymnastics President and CEO Stephen Penny reported the allegations to the FBI's Indianapolis field office that month and provided agents with the names of three victims willing to be interviewed.
The report found Abbott disregarded the allegations and did not formally open an investigation.
Just one witness was interviewed two months later in September 2015 by the SSA, who then failed to formally document the interview for 17 months until February 2017 - well after the FBI had arrested Nassar on charges of possessing sexually explicit images of children in December 2016.
The document was then full of materially false statements, with key information also omitted, the watchdog said.
The SSA was not named in the report but has since been identified as Langeman.
US Olympic gymnasts Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney, Maggie Nichols, and Simone Biles arrive for the hearing Wednesday
The four star athletes testified to the committee about the abuse they suffered at the hands of Nassar and how they were failed by authorities
Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Maggie Nichols and Aly Raisman arriving at Capitol Hill where to testify about the FBI's mishandling of the sex abuse investigation of USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar
Simone Biles arrives on Capitol Hill Wednesday for the Senate hearing into the FBI's handling of the Larry Nassar case
Abbott also failed to share the allegations with other law enforcement agencies or Michigan State University, it found.
FBI officials 'failed to respond to the Nassar allegations with the utmost seriousness and urgency that they deserved and required, made numerous and fundamental errors when they did respond to them, and violated multiple FBI policies,' the report stated.
Nassar's victims have also accused USA Gymnastics and the US Olympics and Paralympics Committee of covering up his abuse for years.
The report showed Abbott failed to take complaints against Nassar seriously or warn authorities at Michigan State University when he first received reports in 2015
Nassar was finally arrested in December 2016 and charged with federal child porn offenses and sexual abuse charges in Michigan.
More than 265 alleged victims came forward to say they were sexually abused by Nassar over the last two decades.
The doctor would assault his victims under the guise of medical treatment when he worked for Michigan State and Indiana-based USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians.
'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 ahead of Wednesday's hearing.
'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 US Olympic Committee while he was involved with the Nassar investigation.
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.
July 2015: Nassar's first accuser Maggie Nichols comes forward to USA Gymnastics over the abuse at the hands of Nassar. USAG president and CEO Stephen Penny reports the allegations to the FBI's Indianapolis field office, headed by Special Agent in Charge William Jay Abbott, and provides agents with the names of three victims willing to be interviewed. No investigation is opened
September 2015: FBI Supervisory Special Agent Michael Langeman interviews one gymnast McKayley Maroney over the phone. He does not document the meeting in an official report - a 302 - for another 17 months
Two days later, Abbott emails Penny and tells him 'pertinent interviews have been completed'
October 2015: Abbott meets Penny in a bar to ask about him possibly getting a security job at the US Olympic Committee
May 2016: USA Gymnastics officials meet with the FBI's Los Angeles Field Office and give them the same information they had given to Indianapolis. The LA office opens an investigation
August 2016: Michigan State's campus police receive a sexual assault complaint against Nasser and open an investigation
December 2016: Nassar is arrested and charged with possessing sexually explicit images of children
February 2017: The FBI finally documents the 2015 interview with Maroney but - the DOJ watchdog later reveals - it is full of materially false statements and omits key information
March 2017: When Penny resigns from his role at USA Gymnastics, Abbott emails a friend about potentially applying for his job
December 2017: Nassar pleads guilty to federal child porn charges and is sentenced to 60 years in prison
January 2018: Abbott retires from the FBI
February 2018: Nassar pleads guilty to criminal sexual conduct and is sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison
2018: DOJ inspector general launches investigation into FBI's handling of sexual abuse probe
July 2021: DOJ inspector general releases damning report finding the FBI made numerous serious errors in investigating allegations against Nassar, failing to act for months and attempting to cover up the missteps. It also found Abbott 'made materially false statements' during his interviews with the watchdog