Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is calling on Attorney General Merrick Garland to reexamine the Justice Department’s and FBI’s mishandling of its investigation into sexual abuse of young athletes by disgraced Olympic physician Larry Nassar. At a Judiciary Hearing this week, survivors of Nassar’s abuse detailed how the FBI failed to promptly and properly investigate claims of abuse, allowing for more than 100 other young athletes to be victimized.
“Nassar abused hundreds of young athletes while FBI sat on its thumb. DOJ refused to attend the Judiciary Committee hearing this week to face questions. Attorney General Garland should assign a federal prosecutor or special counsel to uncover what the FBI knew and when, as well as to seek prosecutions of those involved in the cover-up. These brave gymnasts and all Nassar survivors deserve accountability, especially from the Justice Department,” Grassley said.
A recent Justice Department inspector general report detailed the FBI’s mishandling of the Nassar investigation, prompting this week’s hearing, where star gymnasts Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Maggie Nichols and Aly Raisman testified about the FBI’s inaction. The Justice Department refused to participate in the hearing, despite the committee’s request.
At the hearing, Grassley previewed legislation he is working on to strengthen a federal “child sex tourism” statute that the inspector general identified as being inadequate in the Nassar case.
As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2017, Grassley convened the first congressional hearing on protecting young athletes from sexual abuse, and co-authored legislation requiring amateur athletic organizations to report instances of sexual abuse. He also conducted oversight of the U.S. Olympic Committee’s response to the scandal involving Nassar. Grassley crafted legislation to improve safeguards for young athletes and ensure proper use of funds designed to investigate allegations of abuse. Grassley’s efforts were included in a legislative package that later became law.