Growing up, I always admired the FBI as a highly esteemed group that kept our country and its people safe. However, as the years have passed, I have increasingly found myself reading and listening to stories that describe the FBI in every manner other than "highly esteemed."
Last week, four Team USA gymnasts—Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Maggie Nichols, and Aly Raisman—testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee about the FBI's handling of the Larry Nassar case.
As team doctor for the US gymnastics team from 1978-2016, Nassar sexually assaulted more than 330 underage women. Unfortunately, due to the FBI's incompetence, the disgusting pedophile lived unscathed for far too long.
I am a firm believer in our constitutional right that someone is innocent until proven guilty. However, our justice system must ensure that those who are genuinely guilty face consequences. Unfortunately, that is not what happened in this case.
Maggie Nichols was one of the first gymnasts to report her abuse. She told USA Gymnastics about Nassar's behavior over six years ago, and to this day, there are unanswered questions. Yet, over a year after her first complaint, the FBI had to interview her.
"USA Gymnastics, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee and the FBI have all betrayed me and those who were abused by Larry Nassar after I reported," Nichols powerfully testified before the Senate.
Similarly, it took 14 months of repeated interview requests before Aly Raisman finally got a chance to talk to the FBI about Nassar's abuse. FBI agent Jay Abbott and USA Gymnastics president Steve Penny stood in her way as they collaborated to cover for Nassar, eventually pressuring Raisman "to consent to Nassar's plea deal."
When McKayla Maroney reported her abuse to the FBI, "there were certain FBI agents who chose to falsify what [she] said and conceal Nassar's crimes…." How despicable for the country's highest federal law enforcement agency to twist her words to discredit her and protect Nassar.
During Simone Biles' testimony, she made clear that she blames not only Nassar but "an entire system that enabled and perpetuated his abuse." The cover-up done to protect this man should concern everyone. These women deserve answers.
FBI Director Christopher Wray blamed his organization's conduct on "fundamental errors." Unfortunately, those words simply are not enough. As of now, no one involved in the case other than Larry Nassar has faced any federal charges.
Wray went on to say that the "reprehensible conduct… is not representative of the work that I see from our 37,000 folks every day." However, between the bureau's incompetence in both this case and countless others, it seems that accountability is desperately missing from the FBI's operations.
As Maroney posed to the Senate Judiciary Committee, "Who are they trying to protect?"
Elizabeth Crochet is a 20-year-old political communication junior from New Orleans.