Gymnasts Sue FBI for Mishandling of Larry Nassar Case

U.S. Olympic gymnasts at the Senate Judiciary hearing to testify against the FBI | Source: Soel Loeb / Pool via REUTERS.

Content warning: mentions of sexual abuse, mentions of child pornography

In 1986, former doctor Larry Nassar joined the USA Gymnastics national medical team where he proceeded to sexually abuse over 500 girls and women under the pretense of medical treatment. On January 24, 2018, Nassar was convicted of sexual assault and sentenced to 40–175 years in federal prison as well as 60 years after pleading guilty to possessing child pornography. 

Unfortunately, the damages caused by Nassar are still felt by the hundreds of gymnasts that were subjected to his abuse. It is for this reason that about 100 gymnasts, including Olympic medalists Simone Biles and Aly Raisman, are now suing the FBI for over $1 billion for failure to conduct a proper investigation and bring Nassar to justice. 

The USAG contacted the FBI office in Indianapolis about Nassar’s abuse in 2015. The FBI conducted interviews with several of the victims including Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney. After speaking with Maroney in the summer of 2015, the FBI refused to report her abuse and instead, willingly waited 17 months to document falsified claims of what Maroney spoke about. “They chose to lie about what I said and protect a serial child molester rather than protect not only [me] but countless others,” Maroney claims. At the Senate Judiciary hearing on the Larry Nassar abuse investigation, Maroney describes her disgust towards the FBI’s neglectful choice to “not only minimize [her] abuse, but silence [her] yet again.” After having the courage to share her story, Maroney hoped that the FBI would take immediate action given the severity of the case. Instead, over 70 other young women continued to suffer abuse in the 14 months that it took the FBI to report the crimes committed by Nassar. 

Seven years later, survivors still have to deal with the aftermath of Nassar’s abuse. In light of the current $1 billion lawsuit against the FBI, people question why the victims would choose to go through all of this again and argue that the purpose of this case is strictly monetary. However, Simone Biles and many other gymnasts explain that while “Nassar is where he belongs, […] those who enabled him deserve to be held accountable. If they are not, [Biles is] convinced that this will continue to happen to others across Olympic sports.” Nassar is certainly not the only one who has used his title as a medical doctor to inflict abuse on athletes, but the FBI is also responsible for its negligence. 

Countless athletes ranging from a variety of different sports are subjected to several kinds of abuse from a young age. Biles sheds light on this aspect by saying that “all those years, nobody ever told us what sexual abuse was.” Abuse is so deep-rooted in sports, including gymnastics, that athletes often don’t know what’s happening to them for years. Stopping this at the source—institutions such as the FBI and USAG—is the only way to ensure that the decades of mistreatment never repeat themselves. 

Justice delayed is justice denied and the FBI’s blatant disregard to recognize the urgency of this case stripped hundreds of girls and women who suffered years of sexual abuse of a speedy and fair resolution. The FBI was established to protect American citizens and because of their unacceptable neglect towards the investigation of Larry Nassar, these women sustained extended periods of abuse and damage. It is imperative that this case sets a precedent so that gymnasts and other athletes in the future will never have to face this. 

About the Author

Manya Davis
Manya Davis is currently a senior at IMSA and is the News Section Editor for The Acronym. Apart from her work on The Acronym, she likes taking part in the various social aspects of IMSA such as culture shows. She enjoys film, dance, and playing the electric and bass guitar. On The Acronym, her goal is to give students around IMSA a voice and share her perspective through writing.

2 Comments on "Gymnasts Sue FBI for Mishandling of Larry Nassar Case"

  1. Powerful analysis and strong message!

  2. Scott L. Royal | May 13, 2023 at 9:24 pm | Reply

    With this whole crap show, American has proven AGAIN, that America, is about the abuse. Especially about the sexual abuse. The FBI is about enabling Larry Nassar another year to continue sexually abusing our daughters. The DOJ is about enabling the FBI to avoid public prosecution, for allowing Larry Nassar another entire year to continue sexually abusing our daughters. America is not capable of policing itself. The world court should have permanent offices in New York and LA. To do what America cannot and will not do. Which is to make America safe for it’s citizens. For the sake of our 10-Thousand, I hope this version of America dies sooner than later. Google how many children are born in the US every single day. How many of them do you want to carry the burden of sexual abuse for the rest of their lives? HOW MANY???

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