Larry Nassar: Justice Department watchdog criticizes FBI’s handling of allegations

The Office of Inspector General found that senior officials in the FBI field office in Indianapolis did not respond to Nassar’s allegations with the utmost seriousness and urgency they deserved and demanded. many fundamental mistakes when they responded and violated several FBI policies. when they undertake their investigative activity. The investigation was opened in 2018 to see if the FBI and its field offices dragged their feet in responding to allegations of sexual assault made by gymnasts and the USA Gymnastics organization in 2015 and 2016.

The office said in a statement that “the actions and inactions of certain FBI employees described in the report are inexcusable and a discredit to this organization,” adding that it has taken steps to “assure and confirmed that officials of misconduct and breach of trust no longer works, which matters to the FBI. ”

Nassar, 57, is serving a state prison sentence of 40 to 174 years after 156 women and girls said he sexually assaulted them in the past 20 years.

The former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University doctor pleaded guilty in November 2017 to seven counts of criminal sexual conduct for using his profession as a cover to sexually abuse his patients.

Nassar also pleaded guilty to federal child pornography charges and separate charges of criminal sexual conduct in Eaton County.

“According to civil court documents, approximately 70 or more young athletes were allegedly sexually assaulted by Nassar under the guise of medical treatment between July 2015, when USA Gymnastics first reported allegations about Nassar to the Indianapolis field office,” and September 2016, “the report says. bed. “For most of the roughly 70 or more athletes, the abuse by Nassar began before the FBI became aware of the allegations against Nassar and continued into 2016. For others, the alleged abuse began after USA Gymnastics reported Nassar’s allegations to the Indianapolis field office in July 2015. “

The report states that the special agent in charge of the Indianapolis field office, W. Jay Abbott, and another unidentified supervisory special agent conducted a “limited follow-up” investigation in 2015 that included “a handful of electronic mail exchanges ”and five pages of handwritten notes. Officials also neglected to question two of the three accusers who were available for interviews, according to the report.

Josh Minkler, an attorney for Abbott, told CNN in a statement that his client received and reviewed a copy of the report.

“Mr. Abbott thanks the law enforcement officers and prosecutors who brought Larry Nassar to justice. Mr. Abbott hopes the courageous victims of the horrific Nassar crime will find peace,” Minkler said.

The report also states that the Indianapolis field office “did not notify state or local authorities of the allegations and took no action to mitigate the risk to the gymnasts that Nassar continued to treat.”

The Anonymous Agent has been demoted and his status with the FBI is pending review by the FBI Professional Accountability Office. Abbott retired in January 2018.

“When the FBI’s handling of the Nassar case came under close scrutiny by the public, Congress, the media, and FBI Headquarters in 2017 and 2018, Indianapolis officials failed to take responsibility for their own. failures, ”the report says. Instead, the agency “provided incomplete and inaccurate information,” and after Abbott’s retirement, he also provided inaccurate information to the media “to make it appear that the Indianapolis office had been diligent. in his follow-up efforts and they did so, in part, by blaming others for their own failures, ”according to the report.

Douglas Leff, deputy director of the FBI’s inspection division, said after the report was released that the actions of those responsible were “totally unacceptable”.

In the eight months the FBI was supposed to investigate the gymnasts’ allegations, Abbott met with a senior USA Gymnastics official at a bar to discuss a potential job offer with the Olympics Security Service. when he retired, according to the report.

The FBI field office in Los Angeles learned of the same allegations from the three gymnasts in May 2016, where it “appreciated the utter seriousness of Nassar’s allegations and took numerous investigative steps after learning about them”, but nor did he inform the local authorities. , says the report.

“Simply put, the behavior described in the report is not representative of the FBI or our tens of thousands of current retirees and employees,” Leff wrote in a letter Tuesday that is included in the report. “To the extent that the review reveals further misconduct on the part of FBI employees, we will act in the same manner promptly as warranted by the OPR award.”

John Manly, an attorney for more than 150 of the women and girls sexually assaulted by Nassar, urged the Justice Department to criminalize officers who mismanaged the investigation, saying in a statement Wednesday that “those responsible must be held accountable, with all the force the law can provide.

“When an ordinary US citizen lies to the FBI during an investigation, he is prosecuted, but no charges have been laid against anyone as a result of this five-year investigation,” Manly said. “The FBI has betrayed generations of Olympic champions. It has betrayed the hundreds of children Nassar ravaged, and it has betrayed the trust of the American people.”

Nassar is housed at the US Coleman II High Security Penitentiary in Sumterville, Florida. His release date, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons online records, is January 30, 2068.

This story has been updated with additional details of the report and reaction.

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