Opinion: Failures of the FBI in Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse reveal greater issues within the system


Credit: Taylor McGuire

WSPN’s Emily Roberge discusses the failures of the FBI investigation regarding the USA gymnastics team doctor, Larry Nassar’s, sexual abuse.

Emily Roberge

Wednesday, Sept. 15, gymnasts Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Maggie Nichols testified before Congress to address the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s “blind eye” to reports of USA gymnastics team doctor and Michigan State sport medicine physician, Larry Nassar’s, sexual abuse. His abuse affected more than 300 girls over the span of his career. Between the initial complaints about Nassar’s behavior, and by the time the FBI took action, Nassar abused some 70 more women and girls. These survivors would join the hundreds of others that Nassar sexually abused, including Biles, Raisman, Maroney and Nichols.

It’s truly disgusting to see a whole system burying and covering up allegations of Nassar’s predatory behavior. The FBI is supposed to defend the American people as one of the “world’s premier security and crime-fighting forces.” So, why did they ignore the pleas and cries of young girls regarding an evil monster? Well, it had to do with the personal interests of the agents investigating, or should I say the lack of investigating, the Nassar sexual abuse allegations. Indianapolis Field Office Special Agent, Jay Abbott, was one of the people in charge of the “investigation,” and Abbott also met with a “high-ranking USA gymnastics official” at a bar after his retirement. This meeting sounds like a conflict of interest to me.

But wait, there’s more. Rather than analyzing the allegations of sexual assault when they were initially reported by multiple gymnasts and USA gymnastics, the files sat in a drawer growing cobwebs until 2018 when the “probe was reopened.” Maroney is one of the gymnasts who is a survivor of Nassar’s abuse. After courageously telling her story to FBI agents, she was left with this response from FBI agents: “Is that all?” The FBI seemed to be so much as uninterested in the traumatic experiences of young girls and women who victim of Nassar’s grip.

What’s truly contradictory in the Nassar sexual abuse case is the FBI’s core values compared to the actions they took. On their website, the FBI deems “accountability, respect and compassion” as of the utmost importance, however, all signs into this “investigation” prove otherwise. The FBI failed to respect the stories of the survivors, and even changed the story of McKayla Maroney into “entirely false claims,” to make themselves look better.

This has been the hardest opinion for me to write. I have been putting it off for days because of the intense emotions it brings. Doing the research and reading the stories of the survivors of Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse, all I can see is the pain that this one evil, despicable, man inflicted on the lives of so many young girls and young women.

“[He] turned out to be a pedophile more than a doctor,” Biles said, “It feels like [Larry Nassar] took a part of me that I can’t get back.”

As a young woman myself, I can’t help but think of what if that was me. What if I was that girl who had gone to someone I initially trusted, my well-known team doctor, for help only to be violated in a procedure he promised would improve my performance? What if I had felt so ashamed in something that was never my fault that I felt like I couldn’t even tell my own parents? What if I had been so valiant and strong that I had reported the allegations to the FBI, only for my story to be shut down and completely disregarded by an entire system?

I can confidently say this: women will never be fully safe until something changes. A female will never be fully protected from any sexual predatory behavior until she has law enforcement and the rest of the system behind her. As seen in statistics by RAINN, the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, out of 1,000 sexual assault cases, 975 perpetrators are let off. These statistics reveal the horrifying truth of sexual predators walking free.

I used to believe that, if I had a daughter, I would never let her do gymnastics because of USA gymnastics handling of Nassar’s sexual abuse. But now, I can’t say that. After learning that our own law enforcement system failed to protect these hundreds of little girls and young women, I don’t even know who I can trust as a female. It’s absolutely frightening.

“Little girls don’t stay little,” Kyle Stevens, a survivor of Nassar’s abuse said. “They grow into strong women that destroy [people like Nassar’s] world.”

If the Nassar case has taught us anything, it’s that something has got to change. So, women: let’s lead it.