(NewsNation Now) — Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics team doctor who sexually abused hundreds of young women, is now behind bars, serving a decades-long sentence for his crimes. But several of his victims told an emotion-filled Senate hearing Wednesday that their search for justice is far from over.
Sarah Klein, the first known survivor of Nassar’s abuse and now an attorney, told NewsNation Now’s “The Donlon Report” on Wednesday that the doctor could not have abused so many girls without a “massive cover up (by) adults in positions of authority, representing organizations that are supposed to protect children and protect athletes.”
Speaking of Wednesday’s hearing, Klein noted that though “I’ve heard these stories so many times from these women … it never ever, ever gets easier. Coming forward as a survivor of sexual abuse is horrific; coming forward as a survivor of sexual abuse on the public stage is even worse. And they did it with grace.”
An 8-year-old girl when Nassar began molesting her in 1988, Klein is now in her 40s and has become a leader of the many current and former athletes questioning why the abuse was allowed to go on for so long.
“These women are pouring out their lives and hearts, their brokenness, and the Department of Justice could not even show up (at the hearing) to answer a very simple question: Why has not one other person been indicted? These are crimes that were committed. Everybody has copped to the fact that this was an FBI cover up. It was a cover up at USA Gymnastics, it was a cover up with the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee.”
Despite all this, she said, “Zero heads have rolled. Larry Nassar is behind bars. Why are we, the survivors, still having to fight for any adults who did not protect us to be punished for what they did?”
Senators at the hearing, she said, were asking the same question as Nassar’s victims: “Where are the indictments? Why is the Office of Attorney General not here? Why is the Department of Justice not here to answer these questions?”
Trinea Gonczar, another Nassar victim, appeared Wednesday on NewsNation Prime and said justice demands that “the persons that did know and decided to either turn a blind eye or to brush it under the rug should be held accountable and face jail time. Hundreds and hundreds of little girls were assaulted as a result of their decision to not do their job.”
Gonczar, who now works with sexual assault survivors, said the sport of gymnastics needs “to stop where we are, and start over. Otherwise, we’re just going to keep doing the … same things over and over again.” Abuse survivors “are stronger than ever and we are never going to back down.”
Also Wednesday on the Donlon Report, former FBI Agent Bobby Chacone conceded that the agency failed in its duties when looking into reports of Nassar’s abuse.
“Not only did they (FBI agents) fail these poor, vulnerable victims, but they failed in their duty to report their negligence. And then they lied about it. And they lied about whether they had filed initial reports … this is monumental. It’s a stain on the agency … the good work of the men and women of the FBI … is tarnished. And it angers me that people out there … can behave this way and not be held accountable.
“There’s some answers still lacking from the Justice Department on accountability.”
When allegations about Nassar were reported to the FBI in 2015, there was “astronomical negligence on the part of an investigative team,” Chacone said. One of the people identified as a victim wasn’t interviewed until “five weeks later, and the report of that (interview, which) should have been done within five days of the interview, wasn’t done for 17 months.”
Klein said on the Donlon Report that, “Nothing has changed at USA Gymnastics, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee. Children in the sport of gymnastics are not safe. But we have a big support system within the Senate and they heard our pleas and I do believe they will come through for us. They have not failed us yet. And we look forward to seeing some next steps.”
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