Inspector General Says FBI Failed Nassar Abuse Investigation

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The Justice Department inspector general released a long-awaited report Wednesday, harshly critical of the FBI’s handling of the sexual abuse case involving the USA Gymnastics national team and Michigan State sports ex-doc Lawrence G. Nassar. Mr Nassar’s continued abuse of girls and women.

Nassar, who was sentenced to life in prison, is accused of abusing hundreds of female patients under the guise of medical treatment, including Olympic champion Simone Biles and the majority of the last two US women’s Olympic gymnastics teams. .

Citing civil court documents, the report said that between July 2015 and August 2016, when USA Gymnastics first reported the allegations against Mr. Nassar to the FBI’s Indianapolis field office, 70 or more young athletes were sexually abused by Mr. The Michigan State University Police Department received a separate complaint.

John Manly, a lawyer for many of the victims, said the number was likely even higher — about 120 patients, one of whom was 8 years old.

“This is a devastating indictment by the FBI and the Department of Justice that multiple federal agents covered up Nassar’s abuse and child molestation,” said Mr Manly. “They failed these women. These families have failed. Nobody seems to care about these little girls.”

Inspector General’s report He said senior FBI officials at the Indianapolis field office had not responded to the allegations “with the utmost seriousness and urgency that they deserve and demand” and that the investigation continued after a detailed report of Mr Nassar’s abuse in September 2016 by The Indianapolis Star.

The report said FBI officials at the office also made “numerous and fundamental mistakes in responding to the allegations” and failed to report the allegations to the state or local authorities or take other steps to address Mr Nassar’s continued threat.

According to the report, special agent W. Jay Abbott in charge of the Indianapolis field office repeatedly lied to the inspector general’s office when he asked him about the Nassar investigation.

In the report, Mr Abbott made false statements “to minimize errors made in connection with the handling of the Nassar allegations by the Indianapolis Field Office.”

He also said that Mr. Abbott had violated the FBI. When talking to Steve Penny, president and CEO of USA Gymnastics, about potential job opportunities on the US Olympic Committee, the two were even discussing the allegations against Mr. Nassar on politics. Mr. Abbott later applied for a job at the USOC, but lied to the inspector general twice about seeking that job.

According to the report, the Department of Justice refused to prosecute Mr Abbott, who retired in January 2018, and an unnamed special supervisory agent in Indianapolis in September 2020.

According to his lawyer, Josh Minkler, Mr. Abbott has reviewed the report. “Mr. Abbott thanks law enforcement and prosecutors who brought Larry Nassar to justice,” he said. Abbott hopes the brave victims of Nassar’s terrible crime will find peace.”

For Rachael Denhollander, a lawyer and former gymnast who was the first to publicly accuse Nassar of assault, the details in the report showed an “incredibly profound betrayal” that came as no surprise.

He added that he assumed Nassar was harassing other women because he was working with the national team. it was four years before he molested her and she knew how harassers work.

“This is what survivors face,” he said. “And I kept saying, ‘Why aren’t the survivors reporting?’ the question is asked. Therefore.”

Earlier this year, on May 14, the Ministry of Justice informed the inspector general that it had not opened a new investigation into whether the inspecting special agent had made false statements during his meetings with the inspector general. The FBI said the agent is no longer a supervisor and does not work on FBI matters. He said the agent’s behavior was arranged for review by the bureau’s Office of Professional Accountability.

Connecticut Democrat Senator Richard Blumenthal, who worked with Kansas Republican Senator Jerry Moran on the 2019 Senate investigation into the Nassar scandal, called the report “absolutely chilling” and “a gut punch for anyone who cares about effective law enforcement.” He suggested that the Senate hold hearings to hold the FBI accountable, and said he wanted to know why FBI agents were not charged with making false statements.

Mr Moran said he wanted to partially investigate why the Department of Justice refused to prosecute anyone in the FBI.

The inspector general’s report was another damaging blow to the FBI’s reputation. In 2019, the inspector general sharply criticized the bureau for making numerous errors and omissions in a series of wiretaps used in the FBI’s Russia investigation. As part of this investigation, a Former FBI lawyer found guilty of altering a document in Russia investigation

The FBI said in a statement that it has made changes to promptly share similar allegations of misconduct within the bureau and with other law enforcement agencies.

“This shouldn’t have happened,” the FBI said. “The FBI never loses sight of the damage caused by Nassar’s abuse. The actions and inaction of some FBI employees described in the report are inexcusable and a disgrace to this organization.”

Mr Manly said it would give gymnasts some relief to know what the report was about in the case. But he said their families wanted to be held accountable and that the report did not provide anything.

“While all these families have to live with the consequences, Jay Abbott and his cohorts can live the rest of their lives and go into the sunset with their FBI pension,” he said.

Even as the FBI’s handling of the case came under scrutiny from Congress, the news media, and bureau headquarters in 2017 and 2018, Indianapolis officials did not take responsibility for their failures, the report said. Instead, he said officials at his Indianapolis office provided “incomplete and inaccurate” information in response to the media and the agency’s internal investigations.

According to the report, after delays, the FBI and local authorities found that Mr. Nassar had sexually assaulted more than 100 women and possessed child pornography, which led to convictions in federal and state courts.

More than 200 victims sued USA Gymnastics, alleging that Mr. Nassar sexually abused them, but these cases were suspended when the federation filed for bankruptcy in December 2018.

Earlier that year, the Nassar sexual abuse scandal shook the sport, and more than 150 girls and women testified at Mr. Nassar’s first sentencing hearing in a Michigan courtroom. Each confronted Mr. Nassar. They talked about how they suffered from abuse. Many spoke in tears.

USA Gymnastics, the sport’s governing body, has been shaken by the scandal. filed for bankruptcy in 2018.

In 2020, the organization offered to pay $215 million To decide the legal claims of athletes who say they have been sexually abused by Mr. Nassar. The proposal comes after more than 300 plaintiffs, including Olympic gymnasts, sued USA Gymnastics for failing to protect themselves from Mr.

Senate in 2019 statement The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee found that officials from U.S. Gymnastics, Michigan State University, and the FBI “based on evidence of his sexual abuse for more than a year and permitted additional sexual abuse of dozens of other girls.”

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