Aly Raisman said Thursday the FBI agent she talked to about disgraced former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar diminished the abuse she received when she spoke up about it.
Raisman appeared on NBC’s “Today” and was asked to go into further detail about what the FBI agent in question did to make her feel that her trauma “wasn’t that bad.” She said the agent, when it was “convenient” for him, flew to Boston to “pressure” her into accepting Nassar’s plea deal.
She also said Steve Penny, the former president and CEO of USA Gymnastics, was trying to stop the accusations from leaking outside of the organization.
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“From the very beginning when I was reporting my abuse to Steve Penny … from the very beginning, Steve Penny kept telling my mom and I that the most important thing was to keep things confidential. The most important thing was to give McKayla Maroney breathing room. He was trying to make sure we weren’t talking about it. It seemed like his biggest concern all along was this wasn’t going to get out. It was never ‘How are you feeling, what can we do to help you?’” Raisman said.
She said when she asked Penny whether Nassar would be at a certain meet, Penny was more concerned about her signing the tour agreement.
“There was never any concern for how we were doing,” Raisman said.
She said she felt pressure to be interviewed at the U.S. Olympic Committee headquarters though she felt uncomfortable doing so. She said when she did interview, she didn’t feel any support.
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“I didn’t feel supported when I was going into graphic detail about my abuse which is clearly. … The agent just kept diminishing my abuse and telling me that he didn’t really feel like it was that big of a deal and maybe I should drop the case,” Raisman said. “And when it was convenient for the FBI agent, he flew into Boston even though I requested to have my original interview be with my mom there. When it was convenient for him and he wanted to convince me to take Nassar’s plea deal or pressured me to take Nassar’s plea deal, that was appropriate for him. He felt worth his time to fly to Boston. It was just not a good experience.”
Raisman thanked the senators for their support on Wednesday when she and her other Olympic teammates, including McKayla Maroney and Simone Biles, spoke in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee over the FBI’s failed investigation into Nassar’s abuse.
She said it was disappointing the Department of Justice wasn’t there and called for an independent investigation into why the FBI fired an agent who allegedly did not pursue tips about Nassar’s abuse. Inspector General Michael Horowitz confirmed there were two FBI agents whose conduct was referred for a criminal investigation, but so far there have been no prosecutions.
“The senators seemed to be very validating and very supportive of us, which we are very grateful for, and my question to them if they can help us and if they can get those investigations rolling for us because we’ve been asking for it for years and until we have that … like why did this person get to retire. What did they do the FBI felt was not OK that they had to let them go? And why do they get to slip out the back door just like so many others have?” Raisman wondered.
FBI Director Christopher Wray denied having knowledge as to why no criminal cases were brought, saying it was “a decision by the Justice Department.”
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Moving forward, Wray said, he and his leadership team are determined to make sure that with the steps they have taken in response to this case, FBI members will be “learning from this so that it doesn’t happen” again.