Wray made the admission at the Senate on Wednesday. He said: ‘The actions and inactions of the FBI employees detailed in this report are completely unacceptable.
‘These individuals betrayed the core duty they have of protecting people, they failed to protect these young women and girls from sexual abuse.’
He spoke as it was revealed Michael Langeman, who worked as a supervisory special agent (SSA) in the FBI’s Indianapolis office and interviewed victim McKayla Maroney when she came forward with allegations in 2015, was ousted from his role last week.
The other agent mentioned throughout the report – Special Agent in Charge William Jay Abbott – escapes discipline because he retired, Wray said
Wray also sought to distance himself from the probe at the very start of questioning, highlighting that he was only appointed in 2017 – the year after the Bureau’s initial investigation into Nassar was wrapped up.
‘I wish I could wave a magic wand to change what happened in 2015 and 2016,’ Wray said when questioned by senators. ‘We have to earn the people’s trust back.’
FBI Director Christopher Wray pictured at Wednesday’s Senate committee hearing
Wray said during the hearing, ‘The actions and inactions of the FBI employees detailed in this report are completely unacceptable. These individuals betrayed the core duty they have of protecting people, they failed to protect these young women and girls from sexual abuse’
Olympic gymnast and sexual abuse survivors (left to right) Aly Raisman, Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney and Maggie Nichols gave emotional and powerful testimonies on Wednesday
Wednesday’s Senate hearing saw Olympic athlete Simone Biles, Maroney, Aly Raisman and Maggie Nichols testify how the Bureau had failed to properly probe their claims about Nassar, who was jailed over the abuse in 2018.
Rounding on his agency’s response to the women’s sexual abuse revelations, Wray continued, ‘The actions and inactions of the FBI employees detailed in this report are completely unacceptable.
‘These individuals betrayed the core duty they have of protecting people, they failed to protect these young women and girls from sexual abuse.
‘The kinds of fundamental errors that were made in this case in 2015 and 2016 should never have happened.
‘In this case, certain FBI agents broke that trust repeatedly and inexcusably, and to pretend otherwise would be one more insult to survivors.
‘I want the public to know that the reprehensible conduct reflected in this report is not representative of the work I see from our 37,000 folks every day.’
He said he doesn’t know exactly what each agent is doing every day but took responsibility, saying the buck stops with him.
Wray spoke hours after Simone Biles broke down during Wednesday’s Senate hearing.
Biles, 24, testified that she was failed by the FBI, USA Gymnastics and the Olympic and Paralympic Committee in their handling of Nassar’s abuse and demanded ‘consequences’ for those who ‘allowed the predator to harm children
Simone Biles broke down in tears Wednesday as she recounted the abuse she suffered at the hands of Larry Nassar during the Senate hearing into FBI’s botched probe into the sexual abuse case and blasted the agency for turning a ‘blind eye’ to the attacks
The Olympic gold medalist sobbed as she recounted the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar and how the FBI failed her and dozens of other victims by turning a ‘blind eye’ to the abuse.
Biles, 24, choked back tears as she testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee for its hearing into the FBI’s botched probe of Nassar’s sexual abuse, which enabled the predator to carry on his reign of abuse for more than a year after allegations were first reported.
The Olympic medalist called for the agents who ‘allowed the predator to harm children’ long after victims spoke out to face prosecution as she said she was failed by the FBI, USA Gymnastics (USAG) and the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) in their handling of Nassar’s abuse.
‘To be clear, I blame Larry Nassar and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated that abuse,’ she said.
Biles said the agents who failed to take action must be ‘at least be federally prosecuted to the fullest extent because they need to be held accountable’.
Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney gives an emotion testimony during a Senate Judiciary hearing about the Inspector General’s report
Maroney and Aly Raisman hug after their testimonies
Senator Patrick Leahy, who had asked what accountability the survivors wanted to see, replied that he agreed: ‘As a former prosecutor, I agree with that.’
Biles demanded ‘answers’ and said she fears the same thing could happen to athletes in the future.
‘I sit before you today to raise my voice so that no little girl must endure what I, the athletes at this table and the countless others needlessly suffered under Nassar’s guise of medical treatment – which we continue to endure to today,’ she said.
‘We have been failed and we deserve answers. Nassar is where he belongs but those who enabled him deserve to be held accountable.
‘If they are not, I am convinced that this will continue to happen to others across Olympic sports.’
Biles was joined by her fellow athletes McKayla Maroney, Maggie Nichols and Aly Raisman on Capitol Hill to testify about the FBI’s botched handling of its sex abuse investigation of Nassar.
Olympic gymnasts McKayla Maroney, center, and Simone Biles leave the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing titled ‘Dereliction of Duty: Examining the Inspector General’s Report on the FBI’s Handling of the Larry Nassar Investigation’
United States gymnasts Maggie Nichols, left, and Aly Raisman, are sworn in during a Senate Judiciary hearing about the Inspector General’s report on the FBI’s handling of the Larry Nassar investigation on Capitol Hill
All four women told the hearing that they know of athletes who were abused in the 13-month period between July 2015 and August 2016 when ‘the FBI did nothing’ and called for the agents who failed to take action after the abuse was reported to face federal prosecution.
The hearing examines why the FBI failed to investigate Nassar, 58, for his crimes sooner, leaving the predator free to carry on his reign of abuse for more than a year after allegations were first reported.
The FBI’s handling of the case came under close scrutiny in a damning report by the Justice Department watchdog released in July.
The report from Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz found the bureau made a series of failures in its handling of allegations against him when they were first alerted to the abuse in 2015.
It named Special Agent in Charge Abbott who did not formally open an investigation after the allegations were brought to his attention. Abbott has since retired.
It emerged Tuesday that the FBI has now fired an agent accused in the report of failing to launch a proper investigation into the allegations.
Michael Langeman, who worked as a supervisory special agent (SSA) in the FBI’s Indianapolis office and interviewed Maroney when she came forward with allegations in 2015, was ousted from his role last week, sources told The Washington Post.
Langeman had been removed from his duties as an agent following the release of the report, which found he failed to properly document the interview for 17 months.
John Manly, an attorney for many of Nassar’s alleged victims, said Langeman’s firing is ‘long overdue’ but said the timing – just days before the Senate hearing – ‘seems cynical’.
FBI Director Christopher Wray’s full opening statement: ‘The FBI who had their own chance to stop this monster back in in 2015 and failed’
Opening Statement (Remarks as Delivered)
Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Grassley, and members of the committee.
On behalf of the entire FBI, I want to begin by saying to the brave women who testified here this morning—Ms. Biles, Ms. Maroney, Ms. Nichols, and Ms. Raisman—and I gather there were some others here today who were among the many who Nasser hurt, I’m deeply and profoundly sorry to each and every one of you. I’m sorry for what you and your families have been through.
I’m sorry that so many different people let you down, over and over again.
And I’m especially sorry that there were people at the FBI who had their own chance to stop this monster back in in 2015 and failed.
And that’s inexcusable. It never should have happened. And we’re doing everything in our power to make sure it never happens again.
FBI Director Christopher Wray (R) and Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz (L) are sworn in to testify during a Senate Judiciary hearing about the Inspector General’s report on the FBI handling of the Larry Nassar investigation of sexual abuse of gymnasts
Now before I became FBI Director, I was generally familiar with the Nassar story, shortly after his arrest in 2016. And I remember even then being appalled that there were so many people who had failed to do their jobs and keep these young women safe from that predator.
But after I became FBI Director, when I learned that there were people at the FBI who had also failed these women, I was heartsick and furious. I immediately ordered a special review by our Inspection Division to try to get to the bottom of it.
That review led in part to the Inspector General’s own review, and I’m grateful to Inspector General Horowitz for his team’s extensive and independent work.
I want to be crystal clear: The actions—and inaction—of the FBI employees detailed in this report are totally unacceptable. These individuals betrayed the core duty that they have of protecting people. They failed to protect young women and girls from abuse.
The work we do, certainly, is often complicated and uncertain. And we’re never going to be perfect. But the kinds of fundamental errors that were made in this case in 2015 and 2016 should never have happened. Period. And as long as I’m FBI Director, I’m committed to doing everything in my power to make sure they never happen again.
The FBI cannot carry out its vital mission of protecting the American people without trust. And in this case, FBI agents, certain FBI agents, broke that trust—repeatedly and inexcusably. And to pretend otherwise would be yet one more insult to the survivors.
Failures like the ones that happened in this case threaten the very confidence we rely on every day to keep people safe. So, I want to make sure the public knows that the reprehensible conduct reflected in this report is not representative of the work that I see from our 37,000 folks every day. The actions instead of the agents described in this report are a discredit to all those men and women who do the job the right way, with uncompromising integrity—the way the American people rightly expect and deserve.
Throughout my career as a prosecutor and now at the Bureau, I have found that the agents and officers who investigate crimes against children and sex crimes are among the most compassionate and fiercely dedicated out there. And I suspect a number of you on the committee have had the same experience on your end. And I’m grateful to the women who came forward today so that I can say to everyone: There is no more important work in law enforcement than helping victims of abuse. It’s work that’s got to get done right, every single time.
FBI Director Wray (right) said the buck stops with him and he is already in the process of making changes to ensure this doesn’t happen again
It is essential that we do everything we can to ensure that victims continue to come forward with confidence that their reports are going to be thoroughly and aggressively investigated. A big part of that is accountability and holding our folks to the highest standard our work requires.
When I received the Inspector General’s report and saw that the supervisory special agent in Indianapolis had failed to carry out even the most basic parts of the job, I immediately made sure he was no longer performing the functions of an agent. And I can now tell you, that individual no longer works for the FBI—in any capacity.
As for the former Indianapolis special agent in charge, the descriptions of his behavior also reflect violations of the FBI’s longstanding code of conduct and the ethical obligations for all FBI employees—especially senior officials. Now that individual has been gone from the Bureau for about three and a half years, having retired in January 2018, before any review launched. And I will say it’s extremely frustrating that we’re left with little disciplinary recourse when people retire before their cases can be adjudicated. But let me be clear, people who engage in that kind of gross misconduct have no place in the FBI.
I can also assure you the FBI’s response is not limited to dealing with those who failed so profoundly back in 2015.
To make sure that something like this never happens again, we’ve already begun fully implementing all of the Inspector General’s recommendations. That includes strengthening our policies and procedures, strengthening our training to firmly underscore the critical importance of thoroughly and expeditiously responding to all allegations of sexual assault or abuse—because, as I said a moment ago, the American people are counting on us to get this done right, every time.
And, finally, I’d like to make a promise to the women who appeared here today and to all victims of abuse: I’m not interested in simply addressing this wrong and moving on. It’s my commitment to you that I and my entire senior leadership team are going to make damn sure everybody at the FBI remembers what happened here—in heartbreaking detail.
We need to remember the pain that occurred when our folks failed to do their jobs. We need to study it. We need to learn from it. That’s the best way I know to make sure this devastating tragedy is never repeated.
‘I don’t have a good answer for you’: FBI Director Wray on Bureau’s botched Larry Nassar probe Source‘I don’t have a good answer for you’: FBI Director Wray on Bureau’s botched Larry Nassar probe