Thursday ReadsPosted: September 16, 2021 Filed under: Afternoon Reads, just because | Tags: Bret Kavanaugh, FBI, Larry Nassar, sexual abuse, USA Gymnastics 15 Comments
Today I’m going to focus on the FBI’s epic mishandling of sexual abuse in the USA Gymnastics/Larry Nassar case as well as the accusations against now Supreme Court Justice Bret Kavanaugh.
Yesterday some of the country’s most accomplished women gymnasts gave shocking and damning testimony to before the Senate Judiciary Committee. For background, here is the statement of DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz on his report: “Dereliction of Duty: Examining the Inspector General’s Report on the FBI’s Handling of the Larry Nassar Investigation.” This is a huge story, and all I can do is try to give you a sense of what happened to these women. Here are parts of their testimony.
Vice News: Gymnasts Slam FBI for Failing to Protect Them From Sexual Abuse.
Four of the top gymnasts in the United States told Congress that the FBI, USA Gymnastics, and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee had failed them, for years, in a Senate hearing Wednesday—and they want answers and accountability.
The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing centered on a Justice Department report, released this summer, that found the FBI had botched its investigation into Larry Nassar, a once-celebrated doctor who has since been jailed and accused of abusing hundreds of gymnasts while pretending he was providing medical treatment. The four gymnasts who testified Wednesday—Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Maggie Nichols, and Aly Raisman—have all said that they were abused by Nassar.
“They had legal, legitimate evidence of child abuse and did nothing,” Maroney, an Olympic gold medalist, told the senators of the FBI. “If they’re not going to protect me, I want to know: Who are they trying to protect?”
Maroney, who is not named in the report, spoke with a FBI agent about her experience with Nassar, but that agent didn’t properly follow up, according to the report. More than a year after speaking with Maroney, the agent drafted a summary of her interview that included statements she did not make, per the report.
The FBI’s inaction, Maroney said, was beyond devastating. She recalled sitting on her bedroom floor and spending nearly three hours telling the agent about the abuse she endured. After recounting one particularly horrific memory, she began to cry; the agent, she said, only asked her, “Is that all?”
“By not taking immediate action from my report, they allowed a child molester to go free for more than a year and this inaction directly allowed Nassar’s abuse to continue,” Maroney said. “I am tired of waiting for people to do the right thing, because my abuse was enough.”
AP: Biles: FBI turned ‘blind eye’ to reports of gymnasts’ abuse.
Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles told Congress in forceful testimony Wednesday that federal law enforcement and gymnastics officials turned a “blind eye” to USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse of her and hundreds of other women.
Biles told the Senate Judiciary Committee that “enough is enough” as she and three other U.S. gymnasts spoke in stark emotional terms about the lasting toll Nassar’s crimes have taken on their lives….
The four-time Olympic gold medalist and five-time world champion — widely considered to be the greatest gymnast of all time — said she “can imagine no place that I would be less comfortable right now than sitting here in front of you.” She declared herself a survivor of sexual abuse.
“I blame Larry Nassar and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse,” Biles said through tears. In addition to failures of the FBI, she said 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.”
Biles said a message needs to be sent: “If you allow a predator to harm children, the consequences will be swift and severe. Enough is enough.”
The hearing is part of a congressional effort to hold the FBI accountable after multiple missteps in investigating the case, including the delays that allowed the now-imprisoned Nassar to abuse other young gymnasts. All four witnesses said they knew girls or women who were molested by Nassar after the FBI had been made aware of allegations against him in 2015.
Yahoo News: Aly Raisman described the profound physical and mental impact Larry Nassar’s abuse has had on her health.
Aly Raisman has been extremely transparent about the significant emotional burden of Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse.
On Wednesday, the two-time Olympian detailed the profound physical impact the trauma has had on her health.
During a Senate Judiciary hearing about the FBI’s failings in the Nassar case, Raisman explained that she’d been sapped of all of her energy due to post-traumatic stress disorder and the lasting impact of Nassar’s abuse.
“Experiencing a type of abuse is not something one just suffers in the moment; it carries on with them sometimes for the rest of their lives,” Raisman said. “For example, being here today is taking everything I have.”
“I hope I have the energy even to just walk out of here,” she added.
She described feeling completely depleted after sharing her story publicly for the first time. She said she remembered struggling to find the energy to stand up in the shower and that she would have to sit on the floor to wash her hair.
She “couldn’t even go for a 10-minute walk outside” despite having been in the peak physical condition to compete in two Olympic Games just a few years prior. She often feels that her memory is impacted, too, and that her “mind isn’t working” adequately and that she has “no energy at all.”
The Oklahoman: At Larry Nassar hearing, former OU athlete Maggie Nichols says FBI, USA Gymnastics ‘betrayed’ her.
Nichols was the first to report Nassar’s abuse to USA Gymnastics in 2015. She was known for a time only as “Athlete A,” but before Congress she was quick to make clear that Nassar’s abuse “didn’t happen to Athlete A. It happened to me.”
“I reported my abuse to USA Gymnastics over six years ago and still, my family and I received few answers and have even more questions about how this was allowed to occur and why dozens of other little girls and women at Michigan State had to be abused after I reported,” Nichols said in an opening statement before Congress Wednesday.
Nassar served as team doctor for the 2016 US Olympic Gymnastics teams and continued his role at Michigan State University until later that year after an Indianapolis Star investigation was first published.
Nichols became an OU gymnast that same year, earning All-American status during her time with the Sooners. She later served as a student assistant coach, too. On Wednesday, she said that USAG, the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee and the FBI have “betrayed her and those who have reported Larry Nassar.” She said the lack of action was a “coverup.”
“After I reported my abuse to USAG, 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,” Nichols said. “We now know there was no real FBI investigation occurring.”
More articles to check out:
Sally Jenkins at The Washington Post: Larry Nassar is in jail. Why isn’t everyone who ignored his crimes?
The Washington Post: FBI fires agent who failed to pursue tips about sex abuse by USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.
Nancy Armour at USA Today Sports: Opinion: Gymnasts bare their souls in describing Larry Nassar abuse, but are lawmakers listening?
Dan Wetzel at Yahoo News: Pathetic lack of response to Larry Nassar’s reign of terror hits U.S. Senate.
The non-investigation of Larry Nassar’s abuse of young girls sheds light on what happened during the Senate confirmation hearings on Bret Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
The Guardian: FBI director faces new scrutiny over investigation of Brett Kavanaugh.
The FBI director, Chris Wray, is facing new scrutiny of the bureau’s handling of its 2018 background investigation of Brett Kavanaugh, including its claim that the FBI lacked the authority to conduct a further investigation into the then supreme court nominee.
At the heart of the new questions that Wray will face later this week, when he testifies before the Senate judiciary committee, is a 2010 Memorandum of Understanding that the FBI has recently said constrained the agency’s ability to conduct any further investigations of allegations of misconduct.
It is not clear whether that claim is accurate, based on a close reading of the MOU, which was released in court records following a Freedom of Information Act request.
The FBI was called to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh during his Senate confirmation process in 2018, after he was accused of assault by Christine Blasey Ford, a professor who knew Kavanaugh when they were both in high school. He also faced other accusations, including that he had exposed himself to a classmate at Yale called Deborah Ramirez. Kavanaugh denied both accusations.
The FBI closed its extended background check of Kavanaugh after four days and did not interview either Blasey Ford or Kavanaugh. The FBI also disclosed to the Senate this June – two years after questions were initially asked – that it had received 4,500 tips from the public during the background check and that it had shared all “relevant tips” with the White House counsel at that time. It is not clear whether those tips were ever investigated.
The FBI said in its letter to two senators – Sheldon Whitehouse and Christopher Coons – that the FBI did not have the authority under the 2010 MOU at the time to “unilaterally conduct further investigative activity absent instructions from the requesting entity”. In other words, the FBI has said it would have required explicit instructions from the Trump White House to conduct further investigation under the existing 2010 guidelines on how such investigations ought to be conducted.
But an examination by the Guardian of the 2010 MOU, which was signed by the then attorney general, Eric Holder, and then White House counsel, Robert Bauer, does not make explicitly clear that the FBI was restricted in terms of how it would conduct its investigation.
Read the rest at The Guardian.
Alternet: ‘Just as flawed’: Sen. Whitehouse questions FBI probe of Kavanaugh after failed Larry Nassar investigation.
Talk about perfect timing. During a hearing on the FBI’s mishandling of allegations against Larry Nassar, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse raised questions about whether the Nassar investigation was the only FBI case that was bungled. Whitehouse used the investigation of former USA Gymnastics team doctor and convicted pedophile Nassar to question the legitimacy of the FBI’s 2018 background check into Brett Kavanaugh, wondering if that investigation might have been “just as flawed.”
“It strikes me very strongly as we sit here today, and as we heard the powerful testimony earlier this morning, that the last time a woman came forward in this committee to testify to her allegations of sexual assault in her childhood, the witness was Christine Blasey Ford,” Whitehouse said.
“It appeared to me then, and it appears to me now that her testimony was swept under the rug in a confirmation stampede,” he added. “It is very possible that the FBI investigation of her allegations was just as flawed, just as constrained, just as inappropriate, as the investigation in this case.”
Whitehouse demanded answers regarding the non-investigation of then-Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh and called out FBI Director Christopher Wray over the bureau’s investigation of Ford’s allegation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers.
Whitehouse noted that he repeatedly requested more information about the FBI’s investigation into Ford’s allegations but had been ignored for two years before finally receiving a response yesterday.
“Not coincidentally, I suspect, on the eve of your appearance today,” Whitehouse said to Wray.
I know there is much more news out there today, but in my opinion the stories about the FBI failing women are vitally important. It’s obvious that the FBI is far too white and far too male. And don’t forget the non-investigation of Nassar happened under the leadership of James Comey.
Now a new white male FBI Director–Chris Wray–is similarly accused of failing to adequately investigation allegations of sexual abuse of women.
As always, this is an open thread.
Thursday Reads: The Brave Women of USA GymnasticsPosted: January 25, 2018 Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: child pornography, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, Larry Nassar, Michigan State University, sexual abuse, USA gymnastics scandal, USOC 14 Comments
The moron is over in Switzerland making a fool of himself. I’m sick of reading and writing about him, so I’m dedicating this post to the brave women who brought down sexual abuser Larry Nassar and his enablers. (It will just be a link dump, because I’m still sick. I got an antibiotic yesterday, so I hope that will clear up my sinus infection.)
NBC News: Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar gets 40 to 175 years for sex abuse.
After a remarkable hearing that featured gut-wrenching statements from 156 of his accusers and an apology that the judge said rang hollow, former Olympic gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced Wednesday to 40 to 175 years in prison for molesting young girls under the guise of treatment.
“You do not deserve to walk outside of a prison ever again,” Judge Rosemarie Aquilina said in the Ingham County, Michigan, courtroom where Nassar was forced to listen to victims for seven days before learning his fate.
“I just signed your death warrant,” she added.
Nassar, 54, agreed to a minimum 40-year sentence when he pleaded guiltylast year to seven counts of first-degree criminal sexual misconduct in Ingham County. He still faces sentencing in Eaton County for three more counts, and he’s already been sentenced to 60 years in federal prison for possession of child pornography….
Before the sentence was handed down, Nassar was allowed to speak. Turning to the victims sitting behind him, he tearfully said their statements had shaken him to the core.
“What I am feeling pales in comparison to [your] pain, trauma and emotional destruction,” he said. “There are no words to describe the depth and breadth of how sorry I am for what has occurred. An acceptable apology to all of you is impossible to write or convey.
“I will carry your words with me for the rest of my days.”
The judge took out a six-page letter he sent the court last week in which he insisted what he had done to the victims “was medical not sexual,” that he was a “good doctor” and the victim of a media frenzy, and that prosecutors had pressured him to to admit to things he had not done.
He complained that his patients had turned on him. “‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,'” the judge read aloud, her voice full of scorn.
She asked him, “Would you like to withdraw your plea?”
“No, your honor,” he said.
“Because you’re guilty aren’t you?” she pressed.
“I accept my plea,” he said.
Aquilina said she simply didn’t believe that Nassar was owning up to what he pleaded to: penetrating minors with ungloved hands for his own sexual pleasure.
“I wouldn’t send my dogs to you, sir,” she said.
Read excerpts from Nassar’s letter at the Washington Post: Here are the Larry Nassar comments that drew gasps in the courtroom. Prepare to be disgusted.
Read excerpts from the victim statements at The Cut: The Most Powerful Testimony From Ex-USA Gymnastics Doctor Larry Nassar Hearing. Excerpt:
Kyle Stephens, January 16
Little girls don’t stay little forever. They grow into strong women that return to destroy your world.
Stephens has said she was first molested by Nassar, a family friend, when she was only six. She is the only accuser who was not a patient of Nassar’s. When she was 12, she finally told her parents about the doctors’ behavior, but they didn’t believe her.
Olivia Cowan, January 16
Today, I am a mother, a wife, a daughter, a friend that is struggling each day to find peace and joy in all the things that once made me happy.
Cowan, a former gymnast at MSU, said she suffers from PTSD, and is scared to send her two little girls to birthday parties or sleepovers. She also had sharp criticism for MSU and USA gymnastics, and said that if officials in the two organizations had taken the reports about Nassar seriously, “they would have saved me and all these other women standing before us today.”
Maggie Nichols, January 17
Nichols was the first person to report Nassar’s sexual abuse to USA Gymnastics back in 2015. Her statement was read by her mother, Gina, who at one point turned to Kerry Perry, the CEO of USA Gymnastics and said “Shame on MSU, USAG, and the USOC.”
Stephanie Robinson, January 17
I came to the stand as a victim, and I leave as a victor.
Robinson, who is only 17, initially wanted to remain anonymous. But on Wednesday, she walked up to the stand with her father, and faced her abuser, who she said she had once looked up to, and job shadowed for a day.
McKayla Maroney, January 18
As it turns out, much to my demise, Dr. Nassar was not a doctor, he in fact is, was, and forever shall be, a child molester, and a monster of a human being. End of story! He abused my trust, he abused my body, and he left scars on my psyche that may never go away.
Read more statements at The Call: More than 150 women testified at Larry Nassar’s sentencing. Read what they had to say.
ABC News: Gymnast Mattie Larson says she purposely injured herself to avoid team doctor Larry Nassar.
Retired gymnast Mattie Larson said she once tried to give herself a concussion to avoid Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics team doctor who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting scores of female athletes.
In an interview today on “Good Morning America,” Larson said she was about 15 or 16 at the time when she pretended to slip and fall in her family’s bathroom. She splashed water on the floor and purposely slammed her head in a desperate attempt to avoid being sent back to Karolyi Ranch in Huntsville, Texas, a national training site for U.S. Olympic gymnasts where Nassar allegedly preyed on his victims.
“I was crying, panicking, didn’t want to go. I was taking a bath. It wasn’t even a hard decision in my mind. I just turned on survival mode,” Larson told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos. “I banged my head as hard as I could to make sure that I got a bump and to make sure that my parents heard the bang.”
When asked why she didn’t seek help instead, Larson said, “It wasn’t an option for me. I didn’t know I could. I didn’t have a voice.”
The Boston Globe: Aly Raisman blasts USOC statement on USA Gymnastics resignations. “What’s it going to take for you to do the right thing?”
Needham native and Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman is continuing her call for an independent investigation of U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics related to the handling of sexual abuse allegations against sports doctor Larry Nassar.
“What’s it going to take for you to do the right thing?” the three-time gold medalist asked the athletic organizations on Twitter.
Raisman posted her comments in response to a Monday statement from USOC CEO Scott Blackmun on the resignations of three USA Gymnastics board members in the wake of the Nassar abuse case.
“For the past week, survivors came forward to courageously to face a perpetrator of evil and to share their painful stories,” the Needham native wrote, sharing her “thoughts” on the CEO’s statement. “Many of them, myself included, claim the USOC is also at fault. Was the USOC there to ‘focus on supporting the brave survivors’? No. Did they issue a statement then? Crickets… .”
Raisman accused the USOC of “shamelessly taking credit” for the USAG resignations, “as though they’re addressing this problem.”
ABC News: Michigan State president resigns in wake of Larry Nassar conviction.
Lou Anna Simon resigned as president of Michigan State University on Wednesday evening just hours after former MSU athletic trainer Larry Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in jail for sexually assaulting former gymnasts in his care.
Pressure had increased on Simon to step down over the length of Nassar’s sentencing hearing, which included a week of testimonials from Nassar’s victims. More than 150 women alleged assault at the hands of Nassar. Many of those who spoke during sentencing were critical of Simon and the administration at Michigan State.
“As tragedies are politicized, blame is inevitable,” Simon said in her resignation letter. “As president, it is only natural that I am the focus of this anger. I understand, and that is why I have limited my personal statements. Throughout my career, I have worked very hard to put Team MSU first….
A number of the women assaulted by Nassar spoke following his conviction Wednesday, criticizing MSU and its leadership in a statement, saying, “MSU and its administrators could have prevented the Nassar scandal if they had simply followed Title IX and the mandatory reporting laws. They ignored complaints of his misconduct going back to 1997. When they finally conducted a Title IX investigation of Nassar in 2014, they botched it and allowed him to continue allegedly molesting dozens of women and girls for two more years, including Team USA gymnasts.”
Detroit News: What MSU knew: 14 were warned of Nassar abuse.
Reports of sexual misconduct by Dr. Larry Nassar reached at least 14 Michigan State University representatives in the two decades before his arrest, with no fewer than eight women reporting his actions, a Detroit News investigation has found.
Among those notified was MSU President Lou Anna Simon, who was informed in 2014 that a Title IX complaint and a police report had been filed against an unnamed physician, she told The News on Wednesday.
“I was informed that a sports medicine doctor was under investigation,” said Simon, who made the brief comments after appearing in court Wednesday to observe a sentencing hearing for Nassar. “I told people to play it straight up, and I did not receive a copy of the report. That’s the truth.”
Among the others who were aware of alleged abuse were athletic trainers, assistant coaches, a university police detective and an official who is now MSU’s assistant general counsel, according to university records and accounts of victims who spoke to The News. We recommend residential treatment programs for troubled youth when we encounter these kinds of problems.
Collectively, the accounts show MSU missed multiple opportunities over two decades to stop Nassar, a graduate of its osteopathic medical school who became a renowned doctor but went on to molest scores of girls and women under the guise of treating them for pain.
Charles Pierce at Sports Illustrated: Burn It All Down: It’s Time For Every Last Coward Who Enabled Larry Nassar To Pay For Their Sins.
Burn it all down. That is the calm and reasoned conclusion to which I have come as one horror story after another unspooled in the courtroom. Nobody employed in the upper echelons at USA Gymnastics, or at the United States Olympic Committee, or at Michigan State University should still have a job. If accessorial or conspiracy charges plausibly can be lodged against those people, they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Those people should come out of civil courts wearing barrels. Their descendants should be answering motions in the 22nd Century. In fact, I can argue convincingly that none of those three institutions should continue to exist in its current form. USA Gymnastics and the USOC should lose their non-profit status forthwith. Michigan State should lose its status within the NCAA for at least five years. American gymnastics is no longer a sport. It’s a conspiracy of pedophiles and their enablers.
Where are the other coaches in East Lansing? Where is Tom Izzo, who makes four million bucks a year to coach basketball? Where is Mark Dantonio, who makes just about as much to coach football? Larry Nassar worked for the same athletic department as they do….
Both Izzo and Dantonio went out of their way to support MSU president Lou Ann Simon, who probably should be transported to the apartment in Rome recently vacated by the late Bernard Cardinal Law. Nice to know that these two highly paid public employees know who the real victim is. And the school’s gymnastics coach tried to coerce her athletes into signing a card to support Nassar when the first charges began to come down. This is unfathomable to me. I believe it also would be unfathomable to Vlad the Impaler.
Is there anything about the modern Olympic Games that isn’t corrupt? The people who run them make up a claque of international bagmen, shaking down whole countries and bankrupting cities as though the entire world was their goodie bag. There are drugs and bribery, and there was Sochi, which was a monument to both of them. And now there’s this incredible crime spree that took place right under the noses of the Olympic officials. Back in the day, East Germany had its steroid-peddling doctors. The U.S.A. had Larry Nassar. Two-tie, all tie.
NBC should refuse to pay a dime toward its rights fees until everyone involved in this catastrophe is unemployed. If they so choose, American gymnasts should be allowed to compete in 2020 under the Olympic flag or, perhaps, under the flags of the nations from which their parents emigrated. Their country failed them as surely as did the sporting organizations that purport to represent it. No punishment is too harsh for the inhabitants of this universe of ghouls and gargoyles to which these brave young women were condemned. Burn it all down. Salt the earth so it never rises again.
There’s much more powerful stuff from Pierce at SI. I’ll add a few more links in the comment thread.
What else is happening? What stories are you following?