FBI Director Christopher Wray stunned a Senate hearing into Larry Nassar’s sex abuse of top athletes after saying, ‘I don’t have a good answer for you,’ over why his Bureau botched the case.
Wray made the admission at the Senate on Wednesday. He said: ‘The actions and inactions of the FBI employees detailed in this report are completely unacceptable.
‘These individuals betrayed the core duty they have of protecting people, they failed to protect these young women and girls from sexual abuse.’
He spoke as it was revealed Michael Langeman, who worked as a supervisory special agent (SSA) in the FBI’s Indianapolis office and interviewed victim McKayla Maroney when she came forward with allegations in 2015, was ousted from his role last week.
Wray also sought to distance himself from the probe at the very start of questioning, highlighting that he was only appointed in 2017 – the year after the Bureau’s initial investigation into Nassar was wrapped up.
FBI Director Christopher Wray pictured at Wednesday’s Senate committee hearing
Wray said during the hearing, ‘The actions and inactions of the FBI employees detailed in this report are completely unacceptable. These individuals betrayed the core duty they have of protecting people, they failed to protect these young women and girls from sexual abuse’
Olympic gymnast and sexual abuse survivors (left to right) Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, Maggie Nichols gave emotional and powerful testimonies on Wednesday
Wednesday’s Senate hearing saw Olympic athlete Simone Biles, Maroney, Aly Raisman and Maggie Nichols testify how the Bureau had failed to properly probe their claims about Nassar, who was jailed over the abuse in 2018.
Rounding on his agency’s response to the women’s sexual abuse revelations, Wray continued: ‘The actions and inactions of the FBI employees detailed in this report are completely unacceptable.
‘These individuals betrayed the core duty they have of protecting people, they failed to protect these young women and girls from sexual abuse.
‘The kinds of fundamental errors that were made in this case in 2015 and 2016 should never have happened.
‘In this case, certain FBI agents broke that trust repeatedly and inexcusably, and to pretend otherwise would be one more insult to survivors.
‘I want the public to know that the reprehensible conduct reflected in this report is not representative of the work I see from our 37,000 folks every day.’
Wray spoke hours after Simone Biles broke down during Wednesday’s Senate hearing.
Biles, 24, testified that she was failed by the FBI, USA Gymnastics and the Olympic and Paralympic Committee in their handling of Nassar’s abuse and demanded ‘consequences’ for those who ‘allowed the predator to harm children
Simone Biles broke down in tears Wednesday as she recounted the abuse she suffered at the hands of Larry Nassar during the Senate hearing into FBI’s botched probe into the sexual abuse case and blasted the agency for turning a ‘blind eye’ to the attacks
The Olympic gold medalist sobbed as she recounted the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar and how the FBI failed her and dozens of other victims by turning a ‘blind eye’ to the abuse.
Biles, 24, choked back tears as she testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee for its hearing into the FBI’s botched probe of Nassar’s sexual abuse, which enabled the predator to carry on his reign of abuse for more than a year after allegations were first reported.
The Olympic medalist called for the agents who ‘allowed the predator to harm children’ long after victims spoke out to face prosecution as she said she was failed by the FBI, USA Gymnastics (USAG) and the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) in their handling of Nassar’s abuse.
‘To be clear, I blame Larry Nassar and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated that abuse,’ she said.
Biles said the agents who failed to take action must be ‘at least be federally prosecuted to the fullest extent because they need to be held accountable’.
Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney gives an emotion testimony during a Senate Judiciary hearing about the Inspector General’s report
Maroney and Aly Raisman hug after their testimonies
Senator Patrick Leahy, who had asked what accountability the survivors wanted to see, replied that he agreed: ‘As a former prosecutor, I agree with that.’
Biles demanded ‘answers’ and said she fears the same thing could happen to athletes in the future.
‘I sit before you today to raise my voice so that no little girl must endure what I, the athletes at this table and the countless others needlessly suffered under Nassar’s guise of medical treatment – which we continue to endure to today,’ 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.’
Biles was joined by her fellow athletes McKayla Maroney, Maggie Nichols and Aly Raisman on Capitol Hill to testify about the FBI’s botched handling of its sex abuse investigation of Nassar.
Olympic gymnasts McKayla Maroney, center, and Simone Biles leave the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing titled ‘Dereliction of Duty: Examining the Inspector General’s Report on the FBI’s Handling of the Larry Nassar Investigation’
United States gymnasts Maggie Nichols, left, and Aly Raisman, are sworn in during a Senate Judiciary hearing about the Inspector General’s report on the FBI’s handling of the Larry Nassar investigation on Capitol Hill
All four women told the hearing that they know of athletes who were abused in the 13-month period between July 2015 and August 2016 when ‘the FBI did nothing’ and called for the agents who failed to take action after the abuse was reported to face federal prosecution.
The hearing examines why the FBI failed to investigate Nassar, 58, for his crimes sooner, leaving the predator free to carry on his reign of abuse for more than a year after allegations were first reported.
The FBI’s handling of the case came under close scrutiny in a damning report by the Justice Department watchdog released in July.
The report from Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz found the bureau made a series of failures in its handling of allegations against him when they were first alerted to the abuse in 2015.
It named Special Agent in Charge William Jay Abbott who did not formally open an investigation after the allegations were brought to his attention. Abbott has since retired.
It emerged Tuesday that the FBI has now fired an agent accused in the report of failing to launch a proper investigation into the allegations.
Michael Langeman, who worked as a supervisory special agent (SSA) in the FBI’s Indianapolis office and interviewed Maroney when she came forward with allegations in 2015, was ousted from his role last week, sources told The Washington Post.
Langeman had been removed from his duties as an agent following the release of the report, which found he failed to properly document the interview for 17 months.
John Manly, an attorney for many of Nassar’s alleged victims, said Langeman’s firing is ‘long overdue’ but said the timing – just days before the Senate hearing – ‘seems cynical’.