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Olympic gymnasts shed light on abuse by Larry Nassar

Larry Nassar is currently serving de facto life in prison without parole after being charged with receiving child pornography, possession of child pornography, tampering with evidence and 10 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

While Nassar was indicted on Nov. 22, 2016, his case has entered the spotlight once more due to a hearing conducted by the United States Senate looking into the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) handling of the case.

On Sept. 15, 2021, Olympic gymnasts McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, Maggie Nichols and Simone Biles testified before the Senate to address the FBI’s mishandling of the investigation. Specifically, the gymnasts explained how the FBI agents made false statements regarding their reports and provided misinformation about the case.

Maroney testified that Nassar “turned out to be more of a pedophile than he was a doctor,” and recounted talking to the FBI in 2015 explaining “all of [her] molestations in extreme detail,” while on the other side of the phone, “there was just silence” from the FBI agent.

Raisman testified that the FBI made her feel like her “abuse didn’t count,” but she thought it felt like “serving innocent children up to a pedophile on a silver platter.” She recounted an FBI agent “trying to convince [her] that it wasn’t that bad.”

Biles’ testimony encapsulated their stance, explaining, “we have been failed and we deserve answers,” and further stating, “I blame Larry Nassar, and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetuated his abuse.”

Rather than address the situation, the FBI waited over a year to address the reported abuse. FBI Director Christopher Wray testified that he was “deeply and profoundly sorry that so many people let you down over and over again.”

On a national scale, we need to be better at believing women who come forward about sexual assault.

The reality these Olympic gymnasts faced, although heartbreaking, is not novel. Across America, especially on college campuses, women’s testimonies of sexual abuse are brushed under the rug, ignored or mishandled. If the FBI turned a blind eye to the horrific abuse America’s top gymnasts endured, what hope is there for a freshman girl on a college campus of thousands?

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