On Wednesday, more than 90 women who claim that Lawrence G. Nassar, the former doctor for U.S.A. Gymnastics who was convicted on state sexual abuse charges, sexually assaulted them filed lawsuits against the F.B.I. for its failure to investigate him when it received credible information about his crimes. The lawsuits allege that the F.B.I. failed to investigate him when it received credible information about his crimes.
The lawsuits were filed two weeks after the Justice Department made the decision not to prosecute two former FBI agents who were accused of botching the bureau’s investigation into Mr. Nassar in 2015. As a result, Mr. Nassar was able to sexually assault more than seventy girls and women for over a year before he was arrested in Michigan.
The agents were accused of giving false statements regarding the case by the watchdog that is employed by the Justice Department. The Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Christopher A. Wray, said in front of Congress in the autumn that “there were people at the F.B.I. who had their chance to stop this monster back in 2015 and failed.”
There was not enough evidence to establish a federal criminal case against the officers involved in what Mr. Wray has called “gross misconduct,” thus the Justice Department announced that it will not prosecute those agents involved in the matter.
Plaintiffs include Olympic gymnasts Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, and McKayla Maroney, as well as national gymnastics medalist Maggie Nichols. Additionally, plaintiffs include Samantha Roy, a former gymnast at the University of Michigan, and Kaylee Lorincz, a former gymnast at Michigan State University who now works as an advocate for sexual assault victims.
Ms. Maroney said in a statement that “my fellow survivors and I were betrayed by every institution that was supposed to protect us,” including the United States Olympic Committee, United States of America Gymnastics, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and now the Department of Justice. She went on to say that it was crystal evident that the only way to achieve justice and reconciliation was through the judicial system.
Their attorney, John C. Manly, said in a statement that the overall sum of the plaintiffs’ claims will be greater than one billion dollars, despite the fact that the plaintiffs are seeking damages of varying amounts.
Mr. Nassar, who was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison, was accused of sexually assaulting hundreds of girls and women, including a large number of members of the United States Olympic gymnastics teams that competed in 2012 and 2016.
In 2015, the Indianapolis field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation got proof of his criminal activities. After that, the agents moved on to conduct interviews with gymnasts like Ms. Maroney, who supplied comprehensive testimony. In the end, they did not take any action to step up the inquiry or put a stop to Mr. Nassar, who continued to treat scores of patients, some of whom were from Michigan State University, the Twistars gymnastics club in Dimondale, Michigan, and Holt High School in Michigan, among other places.
According to a report that was published by the inspector general of the Justice Department last summer, nearly five years after Mr. Nassar was arrested on federal child pornography charges, the F.B.I. failed to notify state or local law enforcement about the child abuse accusations that were made against Mr. Nassar. This is according to the report that was published about the F.B.I.’s mismanagement of the situation. The Michigan State University Police Department launched an investigation into the allegations made by a 16-year-old victim of his abuse, which led to the eventual arrest of the suspect.
W. Jay Abbott, who was in charge of the bureau’s Indianapolis field office, and Michael Langeman, an agent in that office, were accused of making false statements to investigators who were conducting an inquiry into how they and others in the F.B.I. handled the Nassar case by the inspector general. The investigation was looking into how they and others in the F.B.I. handled the case.
Two weeks prior to Ms. Biles, Ms. Maroney, Ms. Raisman, and Ms. Nichols providing heartrending testimony to Congress regarding the F.B.I.’s management of the Nassar situation, Mr. Langeman was terminated from his position as assistant director of the FBI. The fact that Mr. Langeman waited seventeen months before documenting his conversation with Ms. Maroney, the first victim of Mr. Nassar to be interviewed by the F.B.I., is one of the mistakes that he made.
Mr. Langeman interviewed her over the phone for three hours in September 2015, two months after the bureau found out about Mr. Nassar’s behavior from USA Gymnastics. The interview took place in September 2015.
Ms. Maroney was 19 years old when she told her mother that Mr. Nassar had sexually assaulted her for many years, beginning when she was only 13 years old, and including for hours twice a day at the London Games, where she had won a gold medal. Prior to this, Ms. Maroney had not even told her mother that Mr. Nassar had sexually assaulted her for many years. Ms. Maroney recounted in her statement before Congress that Mr. Langeman finished the interview by asking, “Is that all?”
Ms. Maroney claims that Mr. Langeman’s belated report, which was filed in 2017, had multiple misleading statements, one of which said that Ms. Maroney had been anally penetrated by Mr. Nassar, and that this had helped decrease her back discomfort.
Additionally, the report stated that Ms. Nichols and Ms. Raisman did not wish to be interviewed by the F.B.I., which the two women have stated is not the case.
In September, Ms. Maroney testified before Congress and stated that the administration had “chosen to lie about what I said and protect a serial child molester rather than protect not only me but countless others.”
Mr. Abbott, who retired from the FBI during the investigation, was accused of making false statements “to minimize errors made by the Indianapolis field office in connection with the handling of the Nassar allegations” in a report that was released during the summer of 2017. The report was written by the inspector general.
In addition to this, he stated that Mr. Abbott was discussing potential job prospects with USA Gymnastics while he was questioning the organization over the claims made against Mr. Nassar, which was in direct violation of the policies of the FBI.
According to the report written by the inspector general, the Federal Bureau of Investigation botched witness interviews and failed to provide credible information regarding abuse to the appropriate authorities.
In addition, it was discovered that Mr. Nassar sexually abused at least 70 athletes between July 2015, when the United States of America Gymnastics first reported allegations against him to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Indianapolis field office, and August 2016, when the Michigan State University Police Department received a separate complaint about him. The allegations were initially reported by USA Gymnastics to the F.B.I.’s Indianapolis field office.
The women who are suing the FBI allege that they were subjected to abusive treatment throughout this time period.
In a statement, Ms. Roy said that “if the F.B.I. had simply done its job,” Nassar would have been stopped “before he ever had the chance to abuse hundreds of girls, including me.”