WASHINGTON - In a major rebuke of the FBI, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee called out America's premier law enforcement agency for failing to investigate claims of abuse by former gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar in a timely manner and then covering up the agency's misconduct.
The bureau's decision to sit on intelligence that Nassar was molesting some of America's world-class athletes allowed him to continue abusing as many as 120 girls and women. It also happened to some for the first time "after" agents were made aware of his crimes.
Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney informed the FBI of her sexual abuse in the summer of 2015, but the bureau didn't act on it for nearly a year and a half.
"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. They had legal, legitimate evidence of child abuse and did nothing," said Maroney during testimony to the committee.
Maroney was joined in testimony by fellow gymnasts including Maggie Nichols, Aly Raisman, and Simone Biles, the world's most decorated gymnast who withdrew from most Tokyo Olympic events this year citing mental duress.
"To be clear, I blame Larry Nassar and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse," Biles testified as she choked back tears.
It was a system that to the shock of the athletes included the FBI, which showed complete disregard from victims who bravely came forward.
"It was like serving innocent children up to a pedophile on a silver platter," explained Raisman.
The hearing follows an inspector general's report issued in July that found the FBI failed to pursue the case and then lied about its malfeasance.
Just two weeks ago, with the Senate hearing looming, the FBI fired the agent who sat on Maroney's testimony. His boss, who even applied for a job with USA Gymnastics during the investigation, was allowed to retire.
"These individuals betrayed the core duty that they have of protecting people. They failed to protect young women and girls from abuse," said FBI Director Christopher Wray during his opening remarks to the committee.
Both survivors and senators want to know why the agents responsible for prolonging Nassar's abuse haven't been prosecuted.
"My hope is that the Department of Justice which was invited today and has declined to appear will match your courage by explaining why those lies by FBI agents did not lead to criminal prosecution and accountability," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) who has been intimately involved in bringing the facts of the case to light.
Director Wray says it's up to prosecutors as to whether or not the agents will face charges. As one survivor testified, more than 100 girls could have been spared if one adult had done the right thing.