Survivors in the Larry Nassar Case are Suing the FBI
On June 8, more than 90 women who were sexually abused by the former USA Gymnastics (USAG) team doctor Larry Nassar submitted a lawsuit against the FBI for failing to investigate Nassar after receiving credible complaints. Each plaintiff is seeking a different amount in damages, but the total claims exceed $1 billion.
Nassar began sexually abusing gymnasts in the 1990s and disguised it as medical treatment. During his medical career, he abused gymnasts through his roles at USAG, Michigan State University (MSU), Twistars USA Gymnastics Club, and Holt High School. Although several gymnasts had previously raised concerns about Nassar, no action was taken until 2015. In June 2015, USAG conducted an internal investigation after receiving complaints and fired Nassar and reported him to the FBI by July. However, the FBI Indianapolis Field Office failed to swiftly act on this information and also failed to notify state or local law enforcement about Nassar. It was not until September 2016 when the MSU Police Department began investigating Nassar that he was removed from his positions at MSU, Twistars, and Holt High School and eventually arrested. According to a July 2021 report issued by the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General, at least 70 more athletes were abused between June 2015 and September 2016.
On September 15, 2021, McKayla Maroney, Simone Biles, Maggie Nichols, and Aly Raisman testified before the United States Senate Judiciary Committee regarding the FBI's mishandled investigation. Maroney testified that in September 2015, FBI Agent Michael Langeman interviewed her in a three-hour phone call. However, Langeman did not document this interview until 17 months later, and when he did, it contained false statements about what Maroney said. Langeman's report also stated that Nichols and Raisman had declined to be interviewed by the FBI, which they testified was not true.
In the report from the Office of the Inspector General, Langeman and W. Jay Abbott, who was in charge of the Indianapolis Field Office, were accused of making false statements about the investigation and the case. The report also concluded that the FBI mishandled witness interviews and failed to inform relevant authorities about the abuse accusations. However, in May 2022, the Justice Department declined to prosecute Abbott and Langeman.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs in this new lawsuit claim that Nassar could have been stopped earlier had the FBI properly investigated him. McKayla Maroney, Simone Biles, Maggie Nichols, and Aly Raisman are all included in this suit as well as former MSU gymnast Kaylee Lorincz and former University of Michigan gymnast Samantha Roy. Their claim stated that the FBI officials were "grossly derelict in their duties." Although Nassar is currently serving multiple sentences that effectively add up to life in prison, the people and organizations who failed to stop him also need to be held accountable.