The proposed lawsuit accuses the F.B.I. of botching its response to accusations against Nassar, effectively allowing the doctor to continue abusing women and young girls through the summer of 2015.
Attorneys for 13 women and girls abused by former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar have notified the F.B.I. that they intend to sue the agency for mishandling an early investigation into Nassar’s misconduct.
According to National Public Radio, Nassar’s victims say that the F.B.I. never took concrete action after they were notified that Nassar might be preying on his patients.
“They left us at the disposal of a predator,” said Grace French, an abuse survivor and victims’ rights advocate involved in the case.
French and other survivors say that the F.B.I. had received notice by 2015 that Nassar was being investigated for wide-spread and ongoing sexual assaults.
However, the F.B.I. allegedly failed to notify other law enforcement agencies that might have jurisdiction.
Neither, for that matter, did the agency intervene to put an end to the abuse.
Attorney Antoinette Frazho said that the F.B.I. simply ignored Nassar’s wrongdoing.
“They turned a blind eye,” Frazho said, which “led to this monster continuing to sexually assault women and children for 16 more months […] They were careless, reckless, and grossly negligent.”
National Public Radio notes that, under the Federal Tort Claims Act, plaintiffs must file administrative complaints with the federal government.
If the government fails to respond within six months, then the plaintiffs may proceed with civil lawsuits seeking monetary and other damages.
Attorney Jamie White told The Associated Press that it is shameful the F.B.I. took no action to stop Nassar.
“This was not a case involving fake 20 dollar bills or tax cheats,” White said. “These were allegations of a serial rapist who was known to the FBI as the Olympic U.S. doctor with unfettered access to young women.”
“We spend so much energy and resources encouraging children to come forward when they have been abused,” White said. “So the fact that people came forward to the most powerful law enforcement agency in the world and were rebuffed—it’s a slap in the face.”
White noted that this is not the first time that the F.B.I.’s inaction has hurt Americans: agents allegedly received a tip five weeks before 17 people were killed in the 2017 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
However, the information was never forwarded to the Bureau’s South Florida office.
The federal government later agreed to pay $127.5 million to the families of those injured or killed in the attack.
French similarly said that Nassar’s last acts of abuse could have been prevented if the agency had simply intervened.
“No one should have been assaulted after the summer of 2015 because the F.B.I. should have done its job,” French said. “To know that the F.B.I. could have helped to avoid this trauma disgusts me.”