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Former Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney hit out at the FBI during testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, revealing a dismissive question the federal law enforcement agency asked her after she detailed the sexual abuse she suffered.
"I began crying at the memory over the phone, and there was just dead silence,” Ms Maroney said of a conversation with an FBI agent. “I was so shocked at the agent's silence and disregard for my trauma. After that minute of silence, he asked: 'Is that all?'"
Ms Maroney also forcefully condemned the FBI’s overall investigation into sex abuse allegations against team doctor Larry Nassar.
“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?” Ms Maroney asked the committee during prepared remarks on Wednesday. “They had legal legitimate evidence of child abuse and did nothing. If they’re not going to protect me, I want to know who are they trying to protect.”
"Not only did the FBI not report my abuse, but when they eventually documented my report 17 months later, they made entirely false claims about what I said," Ms Maroney said, visibly angered.
The US Justice Department issued a statement in July heavily criticising the FBI for its investigation into Nassar, who was imprisoned in 2017 for abusing women gymnasts under his care, as US Gymnastics’ team doctor, and for possessing child abuse images. A Senate hearing was arranged not long after for Wednesday.
The FBI will likely be forced to respond to claims that it interviewed only one witness after US athletics bosses reported Nassar to an FBI office in Indianapolis in 2015 – and that it did not alert state and local authorities to the accusations.
Olympic gymnast Simone Biles, who broke down as she delivered an emotional testimony before Ms Maroney, told the committee that Team USA and US Gymnastics bodies “failed to do their jobs” to stop Nassar sexually abusing her and almost 150 women, it has been estimated.
“I don’t want another young gymnast, Olympic athlete, or any individual to experience the horror that I and hundreds of others endured,” said Ms Biles said, who competed at Tokyo 2020.
“[T]he organisations created by Congress to oversee and protect me as an athlete, USA Gymnastics, and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, failed to do their jobs”.
She continued by saying that “It really feels like the FBI turned a blind eye to us”.
Ms Maroney specifically criticised the FBI on Wednesday for failing to fully investigate allegations that Nassar bused her at the London 2012 Olympics.
Additional reporting by The Associated Press.