The lawsuit suggests that the F.B.I. had an opportunity to investigate and arrest Nassar in 2015 but never ended up taking action against the convicted child molester.
Dozens of women who say they were sexually assaulted by former U.S.A. Gymnastics physician Larry Nassar have filed claims in excess of $1 billion against the Federal Bureau of Investigation, claiming that the F.B.I. failed to investigate the doctor after receiving credible information about his misconduct.
According to The New York Times, the complaints come scarcely two weeks after the Department of Justice announced that it would not press charges against the two F.B.I. agents accused of mishandling the agency’s initial investigation.
Collectively, the plaintiffs claim that the F.B.I.’s inaction allowed Nassar to continue preying on girls and young women.
In the span of the single year following the agency’s 2015 investigation into Nassar, the physician is believed to have molested more than 70 girls and young women.
“I’m sorry for what you and your families have been through. I’m sorry that so many different people let you down, over and over again,” F.B.I. Director Christopher Wray said in a September congressional hearing. “And I’m especially sorry that there were people at the F.B.I. who had their chance to stop this monster back in 2015 and failed.”
The Justice Department said that it would not prosecute any of the involved F.B.I. agents because there was insufficient evidence to levy a federal criminal case.
The New York Times reports that the plaintiffs in the latest round of claims include Olympic gymnastics gold medalists Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, and McKayla Maroney, national medalist Maggie Nichols, former University of Michigan gymnast Samantha Roy, and former Michigan State University gymnast Kaylee Lorincz.
Shortly after the complaints were announced, Maroney released a statement affirming her belief that only the courts can enact justice.
“My fellow survivors and I were betrayed by every institution that was supposed to protect us—the U.S. Olympic Committee, U.S.A. Gymnastics, the F.B.I., and now the Department of Justice,” Maroney said. “It is clear that the only path to justice and healing is through the legal process.”
While the individual plaintiffs are seeking variable damages, the total value of their claims against the Federal Bureau of Investigation exceeds $1 billion.
National Public Radio observes that many of the claimants were abused by Nassar after the F.B.I. initiated its investigation into the physician in 2015.
A report by Inspector General Michael Horowitz, released last summer, found that at least two F.B.I. agents mishandled the investigation, failing to follow up with several victims and lying about their findings.
One of the agents, says N.P.R., was fired, while the other retired.
National Public Radio notes that, although the plaintiffs intend to sue the agency, they have yet to actually file lawsuits; their complaints have been filed under a statute called the Federal Tort Claim Acts.
Under the Federal Tort Claims Act, persons who suffer injuries caused by a federal employee’s negligence must first file a claim against the government. If the concerned agency denies the claim or fails to respond after 6 months, the complainant can then file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court.