A report by a DOJ watchdog has found that former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar’s long-time abuse of female athletes was not only mishandled but largely ignored by the FBI even after they were made aware of the allegations.
Doctor Larry Nassar was a USA Gymnastics National Medical Coordinator from 1996 to 2014. During this time, multiple female athletes reportedly complained about Nassar’s behavior but no action was taken. In 2014, when the organization learned of new sexual abuse allegations, he was terminated from his position. However, the case was never pursued properly, according to the new report by the DOJ Inspector General. The report details how the FBI failed to adequately follow up on reports of sexual abuse, resulting in the ongoing abuse of over 70 athletes between 2015 and 2018, when Nassar was finally arrested by Michigan state officials on the basis of other, unrelated information about another sexual abuse case.
The report gives a scathing look at suspicious activity by then-head of the FBI Indianapolis Field Office, Jay Abbott, who in late 2015 met with USA Gymnastics then-President, Stephen Penny, about getting a job on the USA Olympic Committee. This meeting took place while the FBI was handling the allegations against Nassar, and the lunch conversation reportedly included talk of how to handle public relations surrounding the Nassar case.
The report also outlines how the FBI field office failed to notify state and local officials of the allegations of possible abuse happening in their jurisdictions, and even lied and gave false information about the Nassar case when asked about it by the DOJ. The report concludes, “…senior officials in the FBI Indianapolis Field Office failed to respond to the Nassar allegations with the utmost seriousness and urgency that they deserved and required, made numerous and fundamental errors when they did respond to them, and violated multiple FBI policies.”
The FBI is making changes to its processes and how it responds to such allegations in the future, and to “ensure these matters are handled expediently,” according to NPR. Nassar is currently serving what amounts to a life sentence for child pornography and the abuse of nine women and girls in Michigan.
ARTICLE: LAURA SPIVAK
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: NEW YORK TIMES
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