After a botched FBI investigation that could have prevented further sexual abuse of gymnasts at the hands of disgraced sports doctor Larry Nassar, 13 survivors seek $10 million in claims each for a total of $130 million in damages against the FBI.
According to the Associated Press, the tort claims attempt to hold the government agency responsible for the sexual assaults that continued to occur after July 2015, after the FBI was made aware of the abuse.
“We spend so much energy and resources encouraging children to come forward when they have been abused,” attorney Jamie 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.”
Per the Justice Department’s inspector general, the allegations brought forth to the FBI’s Indianapolis Field Office were met with a failure to respond “with the utmost seriousness and urgency that they deserved and required.” The FBI made “fundamental errors” after becoming informed of complaints against Nassar and decided to open a formal investigation months later.
“No one should have been assaulted after the summer of 2015 because the FBI should have done its job,” said Grace French, founder of The Army of Survivors. “To know that the FBI could have helped to avoid this trauma disgusts me.”
Nassar, a former Michigan State University sports doctor and USA Gymnastics doctor, was arrested over a year later in November 2016, during an investigation by Michigan State University police.
“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.” He further commented the former doctor proceeded with a “reign of terror for 17 unnecessary months.”
The attorney also revealed that over 100 women were abused following July 2015 and expects more claims to be filed against the FBI.
FBI Director Christopher Wray stated he’s “deeply and profoundly sorry” for their mishandling of the case and the trauma caused.
Nassar is currently serving up to 175 years in prison after pleading guilty to sexual abuse to 10 of more than 265 women and girls who have come forward.