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Aly Raisman recounts FBI agent 'diminishing' her abuse when reporting Nassar

The retired Olympic gymnast is calling for an independent investigation into the mishandling of abuse claims against Larry Nassar.
/ Source: TODAY

Retired Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman called for an independent investigation into the handling of sexual abuse allegations against Larry Nassar by the FBI and other organizations, recounting on TODAY how an FBI agent kept "diminishing" her reports of abuse after sharing similar stories in emotional testimony Wednesday.

Raisman, 27, was one of four elite gymnasts who testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, joining Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney and Maggie Nichols in decrying the FBI for not investigating the sexual abuse accusations against Nassar earlier.

She described requesting not to be interviewed by the FBI in the presence of the U.S. Olympic Committee and having that rejected. She also said her accusations against the former USA Gymnastics team doctor were not taken seriously and that she didn't feel supported when going into "graphic detail" about her abuse to an FBI agent.

"The agent just kept diminishing my abuse and telling me that he didn't feel like it was that big of a deal and maybe I should drop the case," she told Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie on TODAY Thursday.

"It was just not a good experience, and listening to McKayla Maroney's testimony was just gut-wrenching to hear her experience as well. It's devastating."

US Gymnasts Testify As Senate Examines FBI's Handling Of Larry Nassar Investigation
Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman testifies during a Senate Judiciary hearing about the inspector general's report on the FBI's handling of the Larry Nassar investigation.Graeme Jennings / Pool via Getty Images

Nassar is serving up to 175 years in prison after pleading guilty to abusing 10 of the more than 265 accusers who came forward. The FBI didn't open an investigation into Nassar until almost a year after first learning of the accusations, and it's estimated that Nassar abused another 70 gymnasts during that time.

"I began crying at the memory over the phone and there was just dead silence," Maroney said in her testimony Wednesday. "I was so shocked at the agent's silence and disregard for my trauma. After that minute of silence he asked, 'Is that all?'"

Raisman called for an independent investigation into ties between the FBI, USAG and USOPC in relation to those organizations' handling of the case. FBI Director Chris Wray, who was not in charge of the bureau at the time, told the Senate committee Wednesday that of the two agents who lied about their actions, one has retired and the other has been fired.

"In order for us to be confident this won't happen again, we need a full and complete independent investigation, and we need to look at how the FBI, USOPC and USA Gymnastics, the interplay among all three organizations," Raisman said.

"The senators seemed to be very validating and very supportive of us, which we are very grateful for, and my question to them is if they can help us and if they can get those investigations rolling for us because we've been asking for them for years," she continued. "Why did this person get to retire? What did they do that the FBI felt was not OK that they had to let them go? Why did they get to slip out the back door like so many others have?"

Biles held back tears during her testimony as she pleaded for similar accountability.

"I don't want another young gymnast, Olympic athlete or any individual to experience the horror that I and hundreds of others have endured before, during and continuing to this day in the wake of the Larry Nassar abuse," she said.

Raisman worried in an interview on TODAY with Hoda & Jenna Thursday about the fallout if there was not a proper investigation as to how the FBI mishandled everything.

"I think about the young kid that's being abused at home and the message that the FBI is sending them," she said. "That's why I think we are all fighting is to help change that because I don't want any other survivors to feel afraid of reporting or to feel like I'm not even going to bother reporting because if their case is so public and they're being ignored, what chance do I have? I don't want to live in a world like that."

She also noted that properly educating children about what constitutes sexual abuse is also important.

"I wish as a kid I understood what sexual abuse was because I would've said, 'This isn't right,' instead of kind of going back in my head and saying, 'This definitely isn't right,' but I never expected it to be sexual abuse because it wasn't talked about," she said. "So I thought, that will never happen to me and my friends. The odds of it happening are so slim ... I thought it wasn't that common."

Raisman also took notice on Wednesday that the Department of Justice officials who have refused to charge the two former FBI agents for lying about what they did were not in attendance at the testimony.

"I felt a little bit more hopeful with how supportive the senators were and I really hope they're going to be able to help us, but I'm very disappointed that nobody from the Department of Justice came. It just to me sends the message that they didn't think it was worth their time, which is really concerning," she said.