In September, four Olympic gymnasts marched to Capitol Hill to finally tell their story. Five years earlier, they had alerted the FBI to the rampant sexual abuse by former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar.
The FBI ignored them and the abuse continued.
That’s why they spoke before a Senate committee last year to demand accountability. Everyone in America cheered them on. Everyone but the FBI and the Department of Justice.
In a Friday news dump before Memorial Day weekend, the DOJ announced that the FBI agents responsible for the failure and its sinister cover-up would face no charges.
US Attorney General Merrick Garland thought it best to overlook the whole mess. Ninety young women were preyed upon and the AG just swept it under the exercise mat.
Inaction allowed Nassar’s abuse to continue
In the 2021 Senate hearing, the gymnasts’ statements were damning.
“They allowed a child molester to go free for more than a year and this inaction directly allowed Nassar’s abuse to continue,” gold medalist McKayla Maroney said. “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?”
Fellow gold medalist Simone Biles agreed. “It truly feels like the FBI turned a blind eye to us and went out of its way to help protect” her abusers. Yet another Olympic gold medalist, Aly Raisman, added, “The agent diminished the significance of my abuse. It made me feel my criminal case wasn’t worth pursuing.”
At least Larry Nassar will spend the rest of his life in a federal penitentiary. As for the agents who ignored the abuse, our government refused to hold them accountable.
Now, gymnasts are suing the FBI
A week ago, the FBI and DOJ hoped that the story was dead. But they underestimated America’s greatest athletes.
Ninety women – including Biles, Maroney and Raisman – filed a lawsuit against the FBI on Wednesday. They demand $1 billion in damages.
“My fellow survivors and I were betrayed by every institution that was supposed to protect us – the US Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics, the FBI and now the Department of Justice,” Maroney said. “It is clear that the only path to justice and healing is through the legal process.”
Most of the young plaintiffs claim Nassar abused them after he was reported to the FBI. Some were affiliated with the USA Gymnastics team and others with Michigan State University where Nassar also worked.
We can only assume the $1 billion price tag got the attention of the two DC agencies. We can’t know for sure since both the DOJ and FBI are too frightened to comment on the massive federal tort claims.
Why fund the FBI if it’s not doing its job?
Is it any wonder the American people have lost faith in their institutions? Time and again we see average citizens hounded, fined and imprisoned over minor infractions while the well-connected in DC or Manhattan enjoy a federally issued “get out of jail free” card.
Only 20% of respondents have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the criminal justice system. That’s a 4-point drop in just one year. Expect it to drop further the next time Gallup conducts the poll.
Taxpayers spent $10.2 billion last year on the FBI alone. By 2023, they demand $10.7 billion. For what, exactly? To ignore serial sexual abuse and not follow up on tips about mass shooters?
I would ask Congress to slash those agency’s budgets, but it’s obvious the federal government refuses to hold itself accountable. Instead, it falls to 90 young women to do their job for them.
Nassar is serving up to 175 years in prison. Soon, I hope the government agencies that enabled him to serve up $1 billion to these brave victims.
Jon Gabriel, a Mesa resident, is editor-in-chief of Ricochet.com and a contributor to The Republic and azcentral.com. Follow him on Twitter at @exjon.