Nassar Gymnastic Victims Sue FBI For Mishandled Investigation

A group of almost 100 women who allege they were sexually abused by former USA Gymnastics team doctor, Larry Nassar, are seeking more than $1 billion from the FBI for fumbling its investigation of the matter, representation for the group said Wednesday.

Nassar victimsPhoto Credit: Shutterstock

Bureau agents at multiple field offices were informed of Nassar’s crimes but failed to sufficiently investigate or notify local authories, allowing him to assault a plethora of additional victims until his 2016 arrest by Michigan police, according to a report last year by a U.S. Department of Justice internal watchdog.

The group joins 13 gymnasts who stated in April that they will seek $130 million in damages from the bureau. The cast is led by Olympic gold medalists Simone Biles, Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney, who condemned the bureau’s handling of the case during a highly-publicized congressional hearing in September 2021.

“My fellow survivors and I were betrayed by every institution that was supposed to protect us — the US Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics, the FBI and now the Department of Justice,” Maroney said in a statement Wednesday. “I had some hope that they would keep their word and hold the FBI accountable after we poured out our hearts to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee and begged for justice. It is clear that the only path to justice and healing is through the legal process.”

The claims are being filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act, giving the government agencies six months to respond to all injured parties before they can file suit.

Nassar pled guilty to 10 counts of first-degree felony criminal sexual conduct in 2018 and is serving an effective life sentence for sexually abusing young athletes under the guise of medical treatment, after hundreds of athletes accused him of abuse across several decades.

USA Gymnastics told the FBI’s Indianapolis field office about reports of abuse by Nassar in 2015, but according to a report by DOJ Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz, agents barely investigated and dropped the matter without informing local authorities.

The report also claims the bureau’s Los Angeles field office separately received reports of Nassar’s abuse. Agents did take meaningful investigative steps, but like their Indianapolis counterparts, they failed to notify local authorities after determining they lacked jurisdiction.

W. Jay Abbott, the former head of the Indianapolis office — who retired before the report was released — allegedly made false statements to DOJ investigators and violated ethics rules while the case was open.

Lawmakers harshly accosted the FBI for its errors and called for Abbott and an unnamed agent to be criminally charged during last September’s hearing. The DOJ opened a review of its decision not to charge the men, but concluded last month that there was not enough evidence to prosecute them.

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