Emmy Griffin / September 20, 2021

FBI: Rotten to the Core, or a Few Bad Apples?

The FBI and USA Gymnastics colluded to keep Larry Nassar’s abuse quiet.

Some of you may remember last year’s Netflix documentary “Athlete A.” It chronicles the struggles of many female gymnasts to get Dr. Larry Nassar convicted for sexual abuse.

For those who are unaware of the circumstances of the case, Dr. Nassar was employed as an athletic trainer for USA Gymnastics, during which time he used his position of power to sexually abuse and prey on these women and girls — all in the name of treating them. He was finally arrested in 2016 and pleaded guilty in 2017. However, it wasn’t the FBI that solved the case; it was a local investigator in Michigan who brought Nassar to justice. The FBI could and should have intervened. After all, Nassar was reported to the bureau as early as 2015. During that year-plus of inaction, there were at least 70 confirmed victims, though possibly as many as 120, who suffered at the hands of Larry Nassar. These women were disregarded by the FBI and their cases swept under the rug.

These are not low-profile women, either. In a hearing before the Senate last week, McKayla Maroney, Maggie Nichols, Aly Raisman, and Simone Biles testified about how the FBI completely mishandled and botched the case. Maroney and Raisman were made to feel like their abuse was unimportant and “not a big deal” when they first reported it to the FBI. Raisman said that the FBI pressured her into accepting Nassar’s plea deal. Maroney recalled, “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 the report 17 months later, they made entirely false claims about what I said.”

Biles points out that there was collusion between some of the FBI agents and USA Gymnastics to keep it quiet. In her statement she said, “To be clear, I blame Larry Nassar, and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse.”

Even FBI Director Chris Wray stated: “I want to be crystal clear: The actions — and inaction — of the FBI employees detailed in this report are totally unacceptable. These individuals betrayed the core duty that they have of protecting people. They failed to protect young women and girls from abuse.”

Director Wray went on to claim that these were the actions of a few bad actors in an otherwise diligent and ardently dedicated band of officers and agents. But that assertion rings hollow. The failures on the part of the FBI were by multiple agents in different offices of the bureau.

The bipartisan horror was a unifying moment among the senators. They joined the gymnasts in questioning why the FBI’s negligence wasn’t addressed by the Justice Department earlier. To date, only one FBI agent has been fired in conjunction with this failure.

The condemnation from the Senate was bipartisan. Democrat Richard Blumenthal said: “It’s not only that the FBI failed to do its job, systematically and repeatedly. It is also … the cover-up that occurred afterwards.” Republican Chuck Grassley stated that this was a “pattern of unresponsiveness” with the FBI, citing an earlier pattern of this behavior regarding leaks to media outlets regarding Joe Biden’s embattled son, Hunter.

So is it really just a few bad apples, as Director Wray claims, or is a larger problem in the FBI? The bureau’s pattern of injustice and inaction would seem to suggest the latter.

In any case, it is the wish of all the athletes involved that the rest of those “bad apples,” along with anyone else who helped to cover up the abuse, are prosecuted. As Biles put it: “A message needs to be sent: if you allow a predator to harm children, the consequences will be swift and severe. Enough is enough.”

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