DOJ: FBI Made ‘Fundamental Errors’ While Investigating Larry Nassar Sex Abuse Case

2021-07-14 17:58:41

The Department of Justice reported on Wednesday that the FBI had made “fundamental errors” while investigating then-team USA Gymnastics physician Larry Nassar in 2015 for child sexual abuse. 

The Office of the Inspector General released a long-awaited report on Wednesday that assessed the FBI’s mishandling of the Nassar case. Nassar, who is serving life in prison on charges of child sex abuse, was first reported to the FBI in 2015 after three national gymnasts, including Olympians Simone Biles and Aly Raisman, said he sexually abused them under the guise of medical treatment.

The FBI did not take any significant action until over a year later, allowing Nassar to abuse dozens more victims during that time. 

“The DOJ Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found that senior officials in the FBI Indianapolis Field Office failed to respond to allegations of sexual abuse of athletes by former USA Gymnastics physician Lawrence Gerard Nassar with the urgency that the allegations required,” the report reads. 

The report found that senior officials in the FBI’s Indianapolis Field Office “made fundamental errors when it did respond to the allegations, failed to notify the appropriate FBI field office… or state or local authorities of the allegations, and failed to take other steps to mitigate the ongoing threat posed by Nassar.” 

The inspector general’s office found that FBI officials in Indianapolis violated numerous FBI policies during the Nassar investigation, including failing to document and review the first few accusations the FBI received.

Two Indianapolis field officers later made false statements to “minimize errors made by the Indianapolis Field Office.” One of the field officers also pursued a job opportunity with the U.S. Olympic Committee in communications with then-USA Gymnastics President Steve Penny — while failing to properly investigate Nassar. 

The FBI told HuffPost on Wednesday that the inspector general’s report made it clear “this should not have happened” and that the employees’ actions were inexcusable.

“The actions and inactions of certain FBI employees described in the report are inexcusable and a discredit to this organization. The FBI has taken affirmative steps to ensure and has confirmed that those responsible for the misconduct and breach of trust no longer work FBI matters,” the bureau’s statement reads.

“The FBI is fully committed to implementing all of the recommendations made by the inspector general,” the statement continues. “We will take all necessary steps to ensure that the failures of the employees outlined in the report do not happen again.”   

The actions and inactions of certain FBI employees described in the report are inexcusable and a discredit to this organization.
FBI spokesperson

Survivors of Nassar’s abuse have been outspoken about the FBI’s botched investigation and have asked the DOJ to release its findings since the inspector general first opened an investigation in 2018.

In June 2020, over 100 Nassar victims urged the DOJ to release the inspector general’s findings. 

Grace French, founder and president of the Army of Survivors, a nonprofit created by survivors of Nassar’s abuse, said in a statement Wednesday that the group has been waiting for this report for years. 

“It’s disheartening to know that it took this long for the public to truly get a glimpse into what happened with this investigation,” French said. “I hope that this brings about more accountability to the institutions who allowed athletes to continue to see Nassar, like myself, long after multiple reports were being investigated. They left these athletes at the disposal of a predator. Survivors deserve to know why that happened. Survivors deserve justice.”

During a 2018 interview, Raisman said she asked why the FBI didn’t contact her until 15 months after her initial report and was allegedly told: “We wanted to wait until the Olympics were over.”

The USA Gymnastics team made history during the 2016 Rio Olympics, winning nine medals, including a second straight team gold. 

Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.), who has worked with several Nassar survivors to get justice, ripped into the FBI in a Wednesday statement.

“I’m so disturbed by the findings in this report. The FBI’s own Inspector General found that the FBI not only failed to act quickly to investigate allegations against Nassar, but showed extremely poor judgment” and violated FBI policies even when the agency did begin an investigation. 

“This kind of government failure is unacceptable. I’ll be requesting a private briefing to understand how these failures were able to occur and, more importantly, the steps the Bureau is preparing to take to ensure nothing like this can ever happen again.”                        

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