The FBI has opened settlement negotiations with victims of the disgraced USA Gymnastics physician, Larry Nassar, who sexually assaulted them under the guise of medical treatment.
News of the outreach came on Thursday as senior Justice Department officials explained why they declined to prosecute two former FBI employees who failed to report allegations against the former team doctor Larry Nassar.
Rarely has an assistant attorney general met with key senators and their staff members to discuss the department’s legal rationale and to offer suggestions for further legislation.
In a disturbing report released last year, the Justice Department inspector general described the mishandled Nassar FBI investigation.
While the FBI failed to act on its own, Nassar abused dozens of girls and women.
Watchdogs concluded that the FBI failed to take legal claims against Nassar seriously, made several mistakes when investigating them, and violated several FBI policies.
In 2016, Los Angeles agents began a sexual tourism investigation against Nassar and interviewed several victims but didn’t alert Michigan authorities.
In his testimony before Congress in September 2021, FBI director Christopher Wray apologized to the survivors.
“I’m especially sorry that there are people in the FBI who had their own chance to stop this monster in 2015 and failed,” Wray stated.
“And that’s inexcusable. It never should have happened, and we’re doing everything in our power to make sure it never happens again.”
Several lawyers representing some of the victims of Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse, including world-class gymnasts and Olympic gold medalist Simone Byles, McKayla Maroney, and Aly Raisman, have filed documents this year indicating they would sue the office.
Maroney informed lawmakers that the FBI agent who eventually got in touch with her neglected to document her complaint properly and made incorrect assertions about it.
“My fellow survivors and I were betrayed by every institution that was supposed to protect us — the U.S. Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics, the FBI, and now the Department of Justice,” she said in a written statement.
Plaintiffs are obligated to file administrative complaints with the U.S. government under legislation known as the Federal Tort Claims Act.
After six months without action from the federal government, a civil complaint for monetary compensation may be filed.
After months of a formal investigation, state officials in Michigan finally brought the former Michigan State University doctor to justice.
The sports doctor was essentially sentenced to life in prison for multiple counts of criminal sexual assault and possession of child pornography.
According to Reuters, a government representative called Jamie White, a lawyer for some survivors, to start talks to settle their cases.
“My clients have been through extreme trauma and were relieved to see the government is open to a dialogue,” White told NPR.
“While dialogue is a positive step in the right direction, we remain prepared to hold parties accountable through an adversarial process if necessary.”
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) attended a meeting with Justice Department officials today. He says he was not satisfied.
“Once again, the FBI refused to provide underlying information to support its assumption that a jury would not convict its agents of botching the Nassar investigation and then trying to cover their tracks,” Grassley said.
“It’s the latest example of the ‘Just Us’ Department trying to avoid accountability for its failures.”
Grassley said that Deputy AG Kenneth Polite and FBI Director Wray will take evidence before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week and that he expects to be questioned about the case again.
A spokeswoman for the FBI, on condition of anonymity, said the bureau did not participate in the decision to drop charges against its former agents and will provide the inspector general and the Justice Department with any relevant materials necessary for settlement talks.
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