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13 Women Seek Millions From FBI For Failure to Act On Nassar Abuse

Thirteen women who were sexually assaulted by former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar have filed a civil claim against the FBI, who they said did nothing when they reported Nassar's abuse in the summer of 2015, the Wall Street Journal reports. It was not until fall 2016, more than a year after the FBI was first alerted, that Nassar was publicly accused. The plaintiffs claim that for more than a year after he was reported, Nassar continued to abuse young women. In early 2018, he was sentenced to an effective life sentence on sexual abuse and child pornography charges. Last summer, the Justice Department's Inspector General identified deficiencies in the FBI responses to claims made in 2015. The Indianapolis-based FBI agents who received the initial report from USA Gymnastics on July 28, 2015, didn’t take the claims seriously, document the evidence they received, or transfer the allegations to the FBI’s office in Lansing, Mi., and later made false statements to cover their mistakes, the report found. While many of Nassar's victims have already received settlements from Michigan State University, USA Gymnastics, and the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee the administrative tort claims being brought represent the first civil action against the FBI in the case.

Each of the victims seeks $10 million, arguing that they were harmed by Nassar as a direct result of FBI agents’ negligence and failure to follow DOJ procedures and policies. Most of the women have not publicly identified themselves. Jamie White, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said that the claims follow an approach taken against the FBI by victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fl. In that case, the plaintiffs argued that the FBI failed to act on tips submitted to it and reached an agreement for the U.S. government to pay $127.5 million to survivors of the shooting as well families of students and staff killed. The FBI's response to the Nassar scandal was the subject of a congressional hearing in which star gymnasts gave scathing testimony against the agency. FBI director Christopher Wray apologized to the victims for what happened to them. “I want the survivors to understand how exceptionally seriously we take this issue and believe that this deserves a thorough and full review,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco told the Senate Judiciary Committee last October. Some victims and their attorneys have urged DOJ to seek criminal charges against the agents who disregarded the initial claims.


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