Lawyers said Thursday that thirteen sexual assault victims of Larry Nassar are seeking $10 million from the FBI after an investigation by agents claimed more abuse by the sports doctor.
This is an attempt to hold the government responsible for the attacks after July 2015. The Justice Department’s Inspector General concluded that the FBI made fundamental errors when it became aware of the charges against Nassar that year.
Nassar was a sports doctor at Michigan State University as well as a doctor at USA Gymnastics. He is serving decades in prison for assaulting female athletes, including medal-winning Olympic gymnasts.
“This was not a case of counterfeit $20 bills or tax fraud,” Attorney Jamie White said. “These were allegations of a serial rapist who was known to the FBI as an Olympic American doctor with access to young women.”
Nassar, he said, continued a “reign of terror for 17 unnecessary months”.
An email was sent to the FBI seeking comment.
White is not suing the FBI yet. Under federal law, tort claims must be filed with a government agency, which has six months to respond. Depending on the response of the FBI, a trial may proceed.
“No one should have been attacked after the summer of 2015 because the FBI should have done its job,” said Grace French, founder of the group The Army of Survivors. “I’m disgusted to learn that the FBI could have helped avoid this trauma.”
White referred to the 2018 massacre at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. The FBI received a notification about five weeks before 17 people were killed at the school, but that tip was never sent to the FBI’s South Florida office. The government agreed to pay $127.5 million to the families of those killed or injured.
In the Nassar case, Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics told local FBI agents in 2015 that three gymnasts said Nassar had attacked them. But according to the Inspector General’s report, the FBI did not launch a formal investigation into Michigan or notify federal or state officials.
In 2016 Los Angeles FBI agents launched a sex tourism investigation against Nassar and interviewed several victims, but did not even alert Michigan officials, the inspector general said.
FBI Director Christopher Wray publicly apologized for how the agents handled the case.
FBI Director Christopher Wray issued an apology Wednesday while testifying about the FBI’s role in the Larry Nassar investigation.
“I’m sorry that so many different people let you down again and again,” he told victims at a Senate hearing last September. “And I’m especially sorry that there were people in the FBI who had their chance to stop this monster in 2015 and failed. And that’s unforgivable. This should never have happened.”
White said more than 100 women had been assaulted since July 2015, and he expects other lawyers to file a claim against the FBI. Nassar was not arrested until November 2016 during an investigation by Michigan State University police.
The Michigan Attorney General’s office eventually handled the assault charges, while federal prosecutors in Grand Rapids, Michigan, filed a child pornography case against Nassar.
Michigan State University, which was also accused of missing out on opportunities to stop Nassar, agreed to pay $500 million to the more than 300 women and girls who were assaulted. USA Gymnastics and the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee inked a $380 million deal.
For more stories on Larry Nassar and the consequences of his years of sexual abuse of young women and girls: https://www.apnews.com/LarryNassar