Nassar Victims Suing F.B.I. for Early Investigative Failures

WASHINGTON — More than 90 women who say they were sexually assaulted by Lawrence G. Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics doctor who was convicted of sexual abuse by the state, planned to file charges against the FBI on Wednesday over his incapacitation to investigate him when he receives credible information about his crimes.

The lawsuits come two weeks after the Justice Department decided not to prosecute two former FBI agents accused of bungling the bureau’s 2015 investigation into Mr. Nassar, allowing him to assault girls for more than a year. a year before Michigan authorities arrested him. The officers were accused by the Justice Department’s own watchdog of making false claims about it.

Plaintiffs include Olympic gymnastics gold medalists Simone Biles, Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney and national gymnastics medalist Maggie Nichols, as well as former University of Michigan gymnast Samantha Roy and former gymnast Kaylee Lorincz, who now works as a sexual assault rights advocate.

“My fellow survivors and I have been betrayed by every institution meant to protect us – the US Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics, the FBI and now the Department of Justice,” Ms Maroney said in a statement. “It is clear that the only path to justice and healing is through the legal process,” she added.

The plaintiffs are seeking varying amounts of damages, but their total claims will exceed $1 billion, their attorney, John C. Manly, said in a statement.

Mr Nassar, who was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison, was accused of assaulting hundreds of girls and women, including many members of the 2012 US Olympic women’s gymnastics teams and 2016.

The FBI Indianapolis Field Office received evidence of his crimes in 2015. Officers then interviewed gymnasts, including Ms. Maroney, who provided detailed testimony. In the end, they took no action to expedite the investigation or arrest Mr. Nassar.

The Justice Department’s inspector general later accused W. Jay Abbott, who was in charge of the Indianapolis bureau’s field office, and Michael Langeman, an agent in that office, of making false statements to investigators. who were investigating their actions.

In a report released last summer, the inspector general said Mr. Abbott made misrepresentations “to downplay mistakes made by the Indianapolis field office in handling the Nassar allegations.”

He also said Mr. Abbott spoke to USA Gymnastics about potential job opportunities as he questioned the organization about the allegations against Mr. Nassar, actions that violated FBI policy.

Credit…Matthew Dae Smith/Lansing State Journal, via AP

The inspector general’s report says the FBI mishandled witness interviews and failed to share credible information about the abuses with relevant authorities.

It also revealed that 70 or more athletes had been sexually abused by Mr. Nassar between July 2015, when USA Gymnastics first reported allegations against Mr. Nassar to the FBI’s Indianapolis field office, and August 2016, when the Michigan State University Police Department received a separate investigation. complaint.

The women who are suing the FBI say they were abused during this time.

“If the FBI had just done their job, Nassar would have been arrested before he even had the chance to abuse hundreds of girls, including me,” Ms Roy said in a statement.

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