Moran: The FBI failed to protect our athletes. This inaction is appalling, and, as we’ve all said, unacceptable.
Sep 15 2021
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) today provided opening remarks at the Senate Judiciary hearing on the Inspector General’s report that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) failed to act on information it received regarding Larry Nassar’s abuse of athletes. Today’s hearing included testimony from Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Maggie Nichols, and McKayla Maroney, and FBI Director Christopher Wray and Inspector General Michael Horowitz.
“One question that stuck with me since the very beginning of our investigation was, ‘Why was there more than one?’” said Sen. Moran. “During the course of our investigation, we uncovered evidence that the FBI received credible information of the dangers Nassar posed to athletes, yet did not appear to take additional actions.”
“I remain committed to working with this committee, the Judiciary Committee, my colleagues in the Senate and the survivors here today to protect and empower all athletes,” continued Sen. Moran. “As the ranking member of the Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees the Department of Justice, I will work to be certain the FBI agents are held accountable for their actions. Our goals should remain the same – to hold those accountable for these crimes and to make certain future generations can train, compete and succeed without fear of abuse.”
Sen. Moran and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) introduced S. 2330, the Empowering Olympic, Paralympic, and Amateur Athletes Act, in July of 2019 following an eighteen-month investigation into systemic abuse within the U.S. Olympic movement. The joint investigation was launched the day after Larry Nassar was sentenced to prison and included four subcommittee hearings, interviews with Olympic athletes and survivors, and the retrieval and review of over 70,000 pages of documents. This legislation was signed into law on October 31, 2020.
Earlier this year, following a personal briefing by Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General Michael Horowitz, Sens. Moran and Blumenthal released a joint statement on the report detailing the FBI’s failure, saying “We are appalled by the FBI’s gross mishandling of the specific warnings its agents received about Larry Nassar’s horrific abuse years before he was finally arrested.”
Click HERE to Watch Sen. Moran’s Full Remarks
In 2018, as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science, Sen. Moran questioned FBI Director Christopher Wray on if the FBI received reports of sexual abuse within USA Gymnastics. In 2019, Sen. Moran secured FBI Director Christopher Wray’s commitment in an Appropriations Subcommittee hearing that the agency would prioritize and take the Inspector General recommendation seriously.
Remarks as delivered:
“Chairman Durbin and Ranking Member Grassley, thank you for holding this hearing most importantly, and thank you also for inviting me to speak before the committee today. I am grateful for your interest in this topic.
“I’d like to thank the survivors who will once again tell their stories. I express my respect for them today: McKayla Maroney, Maggie Nichols, Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, as well as all of the survivors who are also joining us today: Jessica Howard, Jamie Dantzscher, Kaylee Lorincz.
“On January the 25th, 2018, as Chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee with jurisdiction over the health and safety of amateur athletes, Senator Blumenthal, my ranking member, and I opened an investigation into how USA Gymnastics, the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee, and Michigan State University allowed a monster—a monster—to assault and abuse young women for decades.
“Early in our meeting with the survivors, one of them asked the question, and it has stuck with me since then, since the very beginning of our investigation three and a half years ago, and the question was, “why was there more than one of us?”
“I do not know how to answer that question; I do not know a human being that I would not expect to report if someone told them they were being abused, to report to law enforcement, to officials. And yet, time and time again, no one—no one—excepted that responsibility for these young women.
“Why was there more than one? And most recently, we learned even the Federal Bureau of Investigation belongs on the list of those who failed in their responsibility, allowing for there to be more than one, more than dozens.
“Over 18 months, we held four committee hearings, we conducted hundreds of interviews, and we reviewed over 70,000 pages of documents. This bipartisan effort culminated last fall in the passage of the Empowering Olympic, Paralympic, and Amateur Athletes Act which strengthened legal liability and accountability mechanisms over the Olympic movement in the United States, and worked to restore a culture that put athletes first.
“We know, we knew, we continue to know: our job is not done. We will continue working with athletes and survivors now to make certain that law is effective in meeting its goals. And, we are here today because of those athletes, those victims, those survivors, because of their advocacy and their courage.
“Together, we have demanded change and accountability from the institutions and individuals who covered up, enabled or contributed to the abuse of young athletes. And, as I said earlier, unfortunately, that list now includes the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“Senator Blumenthal is correct: it’s not just about these survivors; it’s not just about gymnastics; it’s not even necessarily about the Olympics. This challenge is pervasive in our country, in our society, in our culture, and the chairman, Chairman Durbin, indicated today an instance today in his home state. All of us could find those, know those and recognize that there is much more to be done.
“But, during the course of our investigation, we uncovered evidence that the FBI received credible information of the dangers Nassar posed to athletes, yet the FBI did not appear to take any additional actions.
“Furthermore, we learned that while the agents in Indianapolis claimed to have sent information they gathered to the appropriate offices in Michigan, it wasn’t until evidence collected by local authorities, that that evidence was turned over to the FBI in Lansing, Michigan, and that officials in Michigan then learned of Nassar’s abuse.
“Subsequently, the OIG report in July confirmed this misconduct—the OIG report confirmed our suspicions. The FBI received explicit warnings about Larry Nassar’s horrific abuse, from a survivor, years before the perpetrator was finally arrested. The FBI failed to protect our athletes. This inaction is appalling, and, as we’ve all said, unacceptable.
“I remain committed to working with this committee, the Judiciary Committee, my colleagues in the Senate and the survivors here today to protect and empower all athletes. As the ranking member of the Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees the Department of Justice, I will work to be certain the FBI agents are held accountable for their actions. That it is never repeated.
“I look forward to working with you, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Ranking Member, in that regard, and I know Senator Shaheen, the now-chairperson of our Appropriations Subcommittee, would join us in that effort.
“Our goals should remain the same – to hold accountable those for these crimes and to make certain future generations can train, can compete, and can succeed without fear of abuse.
“I appreciate Inspector Horowitz and his report, his thoroughness. I thank Senator Blumenthal for his partnership in our subcommittees, three and a half years and now continuing efforts. And, I particularly thank the Judiciary Committee for allowing me to speak today.
“This is something we must not forget, and all of us need to be able to answer why there was more than one.
“Mr. Chairman, thank you.”
# # #