Sep 16, 2021
During testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday, Olympian Simon Biles broke down in tears as she shared graphic details of sexual abuse by former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. Biles said both USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee “failed to do their jobs” in protecting her and other former Olympic gymnasts from systemic sexual abuse.
“I don’t want another young gymnast, or 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,” Biles said.
Olympians Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney, and Maggie Nichols also appeared at the Senate hearing, with much of their testimony focusing on the botched investigation of Nassar by the FBI.
A Justice Department inspector general report released in July revealed the FBI’s egregious mishandling of the case against Nassar. The report confirmed that numerous missteps and cover-ups by FBI agents allowed Nassar to continue abusing countless survivors for months after the case was initially opened.
“They allowed a child molester to go free for more than a year and this inaction directly allowed Nassar’s abuse to continue,” McKayla Maroney told the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Maroney recounted how in 2015, she spent three hours on the phone with the FBI divulging details of the sexual abuse she endured for years, including at the Olympic games in London. During testimony, she referred to Nassar as “more of a pedophile than he was a doctor.”
But the FBI failed to document Maroney’s claim for a year and a half. Additionally, the July report confirmed that the FBI ultimately misrepresented what she had told them about the sex crimes.
“What is the point of reporting abuse if our own FBI agents are going to take it upon themselves to bury that report in a drawer?” she said. “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 added.
When the FBI finally did contact the victims, the agents reportedly attempted to minimize the severity of the abuse.
“I remember sitting with the FBI agent and him trying to convince me that it wasn’t that bad,” Aly Raisman said. “It’s taken me years of therapy to realize that my abuse was bad, that it does matter,” she added.
Maroney detailed numerous instances of sexual abuse by Nassar which took place over the course of several years. One such incident occurred on a trip to Tokyo when Nassar reportedly gave her a sleeping pill for the plane ride so he could “work on me later that night.”
“That evening, I was naked, completely alone, with him on top of me, molesting me for hours. I told [the FBI] I thought I was going to die that night because there was no way that he would let me go. But he did,” Maroney said.
“By not taking action from my report, they [the FBI] allowed a child molester to go free for more than a year. They had legal evidence of child abuse and did nothing,” Maroney added.
Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department’s Inspector General who issued the July report which blasted the FBI for its botched investigation, also testified at the hearing. Horowitz stated that the agent who falsified Maroney’s statement “could have actually jeopardized the criminal investigation by providing false information that could have bolstered Nassar’s defense.”
The Washington Post reported that the negligent FBI agent, Michael Langeman, was fired just days before Wednesday’s hearing.
Biles stated that after reading the July inspector general report she felt the FBI “turned a blind eye to us.”
“We suffered and continue to suffer because no one at FBI, USAG or the USOPC did what was necessary to protect us,” 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.”
Nassar has been found guilty in three separate cases, with one of the prison sentences running up to 175 years. Approximately 500 women have come forward alleging sexual abuse by the disgraced doctor. The inspector general report confirmed that as the federal investigation languished following Maroney’s initial allegations, Nassar was able to abuse “scores of victims.”
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 said.
In August, USA Gymnastics filed a $425 million settlement proposal in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in an effort to end what could potentially be years of ongoing litigation. In 2018, Michigan State University, the institution where Nassar was employed as a sports physician from 1997 to 2016, reached a $500 million settlement with survivors.
Sexual abuse has impacted countless major colleges and universities in recent years. From Jerry Sandusky at Penn State to Richard Strauss at Ohio State and Robert Anderson at the University of Michigan, college sports programs have been plagued by sexual abuse scandals.
As was the case with the FBI investigation into Larry Nassar, much of the sexual abuse at these institutions was enabled by inaction, incompetence, and apathy. With the majority of the survivors being children, rightful public outrage has ensued, with many demanding change.
As we noted in a recent blog, a Child Athlete Bill of Rights has been proposed by two non-profit organizations – Child USA and The Army of Survivors. The Army of Survivors was created by a group of more than 40 Larry Nassar survivors.
Any time the subject of childhood sexual abuse is raised, it’s important to highlight California AB 218. AB 218 is legislation offering survivors of childhood sexual abuse an unprecedented opportunity at obtaining justice against their perpetrators – whether an individual or institution.
Under AB 218’s three-year lookback window (known as a revival window in some states), any survivor of childhood sexual abuse is eligible to file a civil lawsuit in pursuit of financial compensation. AB 218’s lookback window temporarily pauses the statute of limitations on childhood sex crimes, allowing all survivors to come forward and file a claim – regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred.
However, the lookback window is only available for a limited period of time. After December 31, 2022, the lookback window closes and the standard statute of limitations resumes. Accordingly, survivors who do not file claims before the deadline will, in most cases, be left without any legal recourse.
At Dordulian Law Group (DLG), we’ve been helping survivors of childhood sexual abuse obtain the justice they deserve for decades. We strongly encourage any survivor who is interested in pursuing justice and recovering maximum financial compensation to file a claim immediately.
Moreover, many states have followed California’s lead and implemented temporary revival windows offering survivors of childhood sexual abuse an opportunity at justice. For a listing of all states with childhood sexual abuse revival windows, please visit our recent blog.
DLG was founded by Sam Dordulian, a former sex crimes prosecutor and Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County who has successfully obtained life sentences against some of our community’s most dangerous sexual predators. With over 25 years of experience and more than 100 jury trial victories, Dordulian offers survivors of sexual abuse a level of expertise and dedication that simply can’t be found at other sexual abuse law firms. But at DLG, in addition to unparalleled experience and proven results, we also provide survivors with the utmost respect, compassion, and professionalism they deserve.
As a sex crimes prosecutor, Dordulian saw first-hand that, when navigating the justice system, sexual abuse survivors often require additional resources and support beyond legal expertise. Accordingly, Dordulian created the SAJE Team (Sexual Abuse Justice Experts) within DLG’s premier Sex Crimes Division, providing survivors a four-tiered support network of dedicated professionals.
With DLG, survivors have 24/7 access to all four tiers of our SAJE Team:
The entire SAJE team is here to serve as your dedicated legal advocates, and to fight to recover maximum financial compensation that allows you to move forward on your own terms. Our past experience and proven results are an example of the type of personalized attention and dedication we offer every sexual abuse survivor:
Contact us today online or by phone for a free, discreet, and no obligation consultation. During your consultation we will:
We will work tirelessly for you to ensure you recover the maximum financial damages award you deserve for your sexual abuse claim.
And with DLG’s No Win/No Fee Guarantee, survivors never have to worry about paying any upfront costs or out-of-pocket expenses. At DLG, we accept cases on a contingency fee basis, which means you do not pay a penny until we recover maximum financial compensation for you.
DLG represents sexual abuse survivors in California and throughout the nation. Coming forward to report a sexual abuse claim can be a difficult task. But as the Olympic survivors and so many other high-profile individuals have shown, taking that step and reporting your abuse can be empowering. When you’re ready to pursue justice against your perpetrator, we’re here to listen, to support you, and to fight to obtain justice on your behalf.
Contact a member of DLG’s SAJE Team today to learn more about your options for pursuing justice through a civil lawsuit.
Our law firm in Glendale, CA advocates for victims of sexual assault, injury, employment disputes, and personal injury concerns.