Gymnasts file complaint against FBI in Nassar case – Pasadena Star News
Shortly after the Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal broke in September 2016, W. Jay Abbott, the FBI’s special agent in charge in Indianapolis, reached out to USA Gymnastics CEO Steve Penny.
“Hang on,” Abbott wrote in an email to Penny. “You’ll be fine.”
The email was among dozens of exchanges between the two men beginning on July 28, 2015, when Penny first informed Abbott and two other FBI special agents of allegations that Nassar, then a medical officer at the Olympic and US national team, had sexually abused three members of the US team, Maggie. Nichols, McKayla Maroney and Aly Raisman.
The FBI’s repeated failure to act on this information, and Abbott and his colleague Michael Langeman lying about the bureau’s mishandling of the Nassar case are the subject of a series of class administrative complaints filed Wednesday against the FBI on behalf of more than 90 survivors, including Olympic champions Simone Biles, Maroney, Raisman and world champion Nichols.
The claims, filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), allege the FBI mishandled credible complaints of sexual assault by Nassar received by the agency in July 2015. Under the 76-year-old law, private parties can sue the US government. Federal Court for offenses committed by persons working or acting for the federal government.
“The FBI knew Larry Nassar was a danger to children when his abuse of me was first reported in 2015,” Nichols said in a statement. “For 421 days they worked with USA Gymnastics and USOPC to hide this information from the public and allowed Nassar to continue to assault young women and girls. It’s time the FBI was held accountable.
The filing comes less than two weeks after the Justice Department announced it would not prosecute Abbott and Langeman for lying to DOJ investigators examining the FBI’s mishandling of Nassar’s sex abuse case and USA Gymnastics.
The DOJ decision follows more than a year of pressure from Capitol Hill, Olympians and other Nassar survivors and the public to overturn an earlier decision not to indict Abbott and Langeman for making false statements during of an investigation by the DOJ’s Office of Inspector General into the Nassar case. .
“My fellow survivors and I have been betrayed by every institution meant to protect us – the United States Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics, the FBI and now the Department of Justice,” Maroney said in a statement. “I had some hope that they would keep their word and hold the FBI accountable after we poured out our hearts to the US Senate Judiciary Committee and demanded justice. It is clear that the only path to justice and healing is through the legal process.
In the 15 months since the FBI was first made aware of the allegations against Nassar, Penny and Abbott have been in frequent contact. Penny consulted Abbott on the Nassar case, updating the FBI on a USA Gymnastics scheme for a false narrative that allowed Nassar to retire for personal reasons instead of alerting the public and potential survivors of the sexual abuse allegations against him, asking Abbott and other agents for advice and assistance in handling Nassar and the media, and in some cases for favors in the way the FBI presented and handled the case, according to emails.
The favors included Penny asking officers not to release information to potential victims, according to emails. Penny in turn recommended Abbott during this same period to U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee officials for the organization’s top security position.
What Abbott and the FBI failed to do during those 15 months was contact state officials in Michigan, where Nassar continued to see patients until September 13, 2016, when his practice has been suspended.
“This was a major failure of our justice system that took the emotional lives of hundreds of children,” John Manly, an attorney for Nassar survivors, said in an interview. “The FBI helped USA Gymnastics write press releases to mislead people. It just wasn’t a mistake. The FBI aided and abetted a pedophile.
The filing echoes a damning report from the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) released last July that found that several FBI agents and offices failed to respond to Nassar’s allegations “with the urgency that the allegations required”.
Specifically, Abbott lied to OIG investigators about applying for a senior security position with the USOPC while consulting Penny about the Nassar case. The report also found that FBI agents lied to investigators to cover up mistakes made during the bureau’s investigation of Nassar.
Abbott, a 30-year FBI veteran, retired from the office in January 2018.
The OIG report also revealed that “after eight months of inaction by the FBI Field Office in Indianapolis, the FBI Field Office in Los Angeles has received the same allegations. The OIG found that while the Los Angeles field office took extensive investigative steps, it also did not notify the resident FBI Lansing agency, or state or local authorities, of the allegations, and took no further action to mitigate the ongoing threat posed by Nassar. .”
The OIG report also revealed that Langeman did not write an official report of his 2015 interview with Olympic champion Maroney, who was repeatedly assaulted by Nassar, until almost a year and a half later. Maroney and Manly said they dispute the accuracy and veracity of the report. Langeman was fired from the office in September, according to FBI Director Christopher Wray.
“The FBI was the only thing standing between Larry Nassar and those girls,” Manly said. “And the FBI didn’t do anything, Abbott is (looking for a position) with the USOPC when a hundred children were sexually abused in the state of Michigan when the office knew all about Larry Nassar.(The FBI) absolutely knew when (the scandal) became public that they had deceived Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Maggie Nichols about what they knew about Nassar.
The FBI’s mishandling of the case came under the watch of James B. Comey, who was the bureau’s director from 2013 until May 2017, when he was fired by President Trump.
“Jim Comey never commented on that,” Manly said. “He completely ignored it. But he’ll be talking about Hillary Clinton’s emails and he’s questioning Trump. But Comey never said a word about it and he describes himself as an American hero. Admit it. How about saying you’re sorry? »