13 Larry Nassar victims seeking $130M US from FBI over bungled probe
Claim that delayed investigation into accusations led to more abuse by sports doctor
Thirteen sexual assault victims of Larry Nassar are seeking $10 million US each from the FBI, claiming a bungled investigation by agents led to more abuse by the sports doctor, lawyers said Thursday.
It's an effort to make the government responsible for assaults that occurred after July 2015. The Justice Department's inspector general concluded last year that the FBI made fundamental errors when it became aware of allegations against Nassar that year.
Nassar was a Michigan State University sports doctor as well as a doctor at USA Gymnastics. He is serving decades in prison for assaulting female athletes, including medal-winning Olympic gymnasts.
Nassar, he added, continued a "reign of terror for 17 unnecessary months."
An email seeking comment was sent to the FBI.
White is not suing the FBI yet. Under federal law, tort claims must be a filed with a government agency, which then has six months to reply. A lawsuit could follow, depending on the FBI's response.
White noted the 2018 massacre at Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The FBI received a tip about five weeks before 17 people were killed at the school, but the tip was never forwarded to the FBI's South Florida office. The government agreed to pay $127.5 million US to families of those killed or injured.
Took months to open formal investigation
In the Nassar case, Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics told local FBI agents in 2015 that three gymnasts said they were assaulted by Nassar. But the FBI did not open a formal investigation or inform federal or state authorities in Michigan, according to the inspector general's report.
Los Angeles FBI agents in 2016 began a sexual tourism investigation against Nassar and interviewed several victims but also didn't alert Michigan authorities, the inspector general said.
The FBI declined to comment Thursday but referred to Director Christopher Wray's remarks to Congress about how the matter was poorly handled.
"I'm sorry that so many different people let you down, over and over again," Wray told victims at a Senate hearing last September. "And I'm especially sorry that there were people at the FBI who had their own chance to stop this monster back in 2015 and failed. And that's inexcusable. It never should have happened."
White said more than 100 women were assaulted after July 2015, and he expects other lawyers will file claims against the FBI. Nassar wasn't arrested until November 2016 during an investigation by Michigan State University police.
FBI Director Christopher Wray has said he's "deeply and profoundly sorry" for delays in Nassar's prosecution and the pain it caused.
The Michigan attorney general's office ultimately handled the assault charges, while federal prosecutors in Grand Rapids, Michigan, filed a child pornography case against Nassar.
Michigan State University agreed to pay $500 million to more than 300 women and girls who were assaulted. USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee made a $380 million settlement.