Biles, Raisman set to testify before Senate on FBI's Larry Nassar investigation

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

Washington — Gymnast superstars Simone Biles and Aly Raisman are set to testify Wednesday before the Senate about the failures by the FBI to properly investigate allegations against former Michigan State University sports doctor Larry Nassar.

Raisman and Biles were among Nassar’s more than 500 reportedvictims. Raisman has strongly criticized USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic Committee for their handling of the Nassar case.

Also on the witness panel will be gymnasts McKayla Maroney and Maggie Nichols, as well as FBI Director Christopher A. Wray and Inspector General Michael Horowitz, whose report earlier this year faulted agency field offices for not responding “with the urgency that the allegations required” and for making "fundamental errors when it did respond." Nichols was the first documented gymnast to report Nassar’s abuse to USA Gymnastics in June 2015 — a report submitted by her coach.

USA gymnast superstars Simone Biles and others are set to testify Wednesday before the Senate about the failures by the FBI to properly investigate allegations against former Michigan State University sports doctor Larry Nassar.

Those mistakes included failing to notify the appropriate FBI field office in Lansing or state or local authorities of the allegations or to take other steps to neutralize the "ongoing threat posed by Nassar."

The report suggests the delays by investigators allowed Nassar to continue abusing young athletes for months. It cites court documents showing 70 or more were allegedly sexually abused by Nassar between July 2015 — when the first complaint against Nassar was filed with the FBI Indianapolis Field Office — and August 2016, when MSU Police received a separate complaint of sexual abuse by Nassar.

Nassar was charged in November 2016 and sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison in 2018 for multiple counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and for possessing child pornography. Hundreds of people have said they were abused by Nassar under the guise of medical treatment.

The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Horowitz's probe set out to determine why it took nearly a year for the FBI to pursue complaints against Nassar after USA Gymnastics first reported complaints about him to the FBI's field office in Indianapolis in July 2015.

The FBI was tipped off to concerns about Nassar in July 2015 but then conducted no investigative activity in the case for eight months, according to the IG report. The Indianapolis office was advised by federal prosecutors to transfer the Nassar matter to the FBI's Lansing office but never did so — even though the Indianapolis office told USA Gymnastics the transfer had happened.  

The FBI eventually interviewed Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney by phone in September 2015, in which she described Nassar's criminal behavior.

Maroney told another Senate committee that she did not recall further communication from the FBI until she was interviewed again in 2016 in California, where she repeated the description of Nassar's explicit conduct that she had given the FBI in 2015.

USA Gymnastics had again raised complaints about Nassar with the FBI's Los Angeles office in early 2016. Horowitz's report also found that the Los Angeles office had failed to notify the FBI Lansing office or state or local authorities of the allegations against Nassar. 

Lansing's FBI office didn't learn about the Nassar allegations until after the Michigan State University Police executed a search warrant at Nassar’s home in September 2016, according to the inspector general's report.

mburke@detroitnews.com