Victims of Larry Nassar will file $1 billion in claims against the FBI
Gymnasts and other victims of sports physician Larry Nassar, who was convicted of multiple counts of sexually assaulting minors, said they plan on Wednesday to file a series of tort lawsuits against the Department of Justice and the FBI are aiming for a collective total of around $1 billion, according to their legal team.
“The FBI knew Larry Nassar was a danger to children when his abuse of me was first reported in September 2015,” gymnast Maggie Nichols, Team USA member and NCAA champion, 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 contenders include some of America’s most famous Olympic and Team USA gymnasts, including Nichols, Simone Biles, Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney. That group includes former University of Michigan gymnast Samantha Roy and former gymnast and victims’ advocate Kaylee Lorincz.
Nassar’s victims use the Federal Tort Claims Act, a 1946 law that provides a legal way to compensate people who suffered bodily injury, death, property loss, or damage caused by the act or negligent or wrongful omission of a federal government employee. .
The lawsuit comes as the Justice Department for the third time declined to pursue criminal charges against FBI agents who failed to properly investigate Nassar’s abuse allegations.
Assistant Attorney General Lisa Monaco announced last year that the DOJ was reviewing its decision not to press charges against two former FBI special agents who first received the athletes’ allegations.
Their actions were outlined in a damning report by the inspector general that sparked outrage from lawmakers who demanded answers about why the department had not moved forward in prosecuting the two men. The report revealed that the FBI had been made aware of Nassar’s behavior, but had not acted for over a year.
In a May statement, the Justice Department said the decision “reflected the recommendation of experienced prosecutors” but “in no way reflects the view that the investigation into Nassar was conducted as it should have been.” be, nor does it in any way reflect an endorsement of or disdain for the conduct of former agents.”
The amount of damages sought differs depending on the plaintiff, but the total claims could exceed $1 billion, according to a group of Manly Stewart lawyers & Finaldi, Pitt McGehee Palmer Bonanni & Rivers, Grewal Law and Drew, Cooper & Anding, and Gruel Mills, the firms representing the clients.
Hundreds of young women and girls have come forward to accuse Nassar, a former US national gymnastics team doctor, of inappropriate or criminal behavior. Nassar pleaded guilty in 2017 to crimes against multiple victims and was sentenced to 60 years behind bars for child pornography and other charges. He pleaded guilty again in 2018 and received an additional sentence of 40 to 175 years for several counts of sexual assault of minors.
During a congressional hearing in September, FBI Director Christopher Wray expressed outrage and sadness for the victims of Nassar’s abuse and FBI inaction.
“I’m sorry for what you and your families have been through,” Wray told the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I’m sorry that so many different people let you down, over and over again. And I’m especially sorry that there were people in the FBI who had their own shot at stopping this monster in 2015 and failed. .”
Wray said the allegations happened before he was manager, but he was doing everything in his power to make sure it didn’t happen again.