The Legal Examiner Affiliate Network The Legal Examiner The Legal Examiner The Legal Examiner search feed instagram google-plus avvo phone envelope checkmark mail-reply spinner error close The Legal Examiner The Legal Examiner The Legal Examiner
Federal Bureau of Investigation Indianapolis Division.

Larry Nassar Sex Abuse Survivors Are Suing the FBI

Months after USA Gymnastics and over 300 young female athletes finalized a settlement agreement, 13 survivors of sex abuse by Larry Nassar have turned their attention to the FBI. Nassar worked as a doctor for Michigan State University and for the Olympic gymnastic hopefuls of Team USA. Survivors are suing the FBI, seeking $130 million, to hold the FBI and government agents responsible for sexual assaults by Nassar, which happened after July 2015. Plaintiffs claim that the FBI investigation into Nassar put female athletes in the cross-hairs for more than 17 months of assaults after the first allegations surfaced while the FBI stood by and failed to act.

After USA Gymnastics told FBI agents in 2015 that three athletes said they were assaulted by Nassar, the FBI failed to open a formal investigation and didn’t inform federal or state authorities in Michigan. In 2016, FBI agents in Los Angeles began investigating Nassar for allegations of sexual tourism. These agents interviewed several survivors but did not alert authorities. These reports were part of the inspector general’s report on the investigation and the FBI’s handling of it. 

Attorney Jamie White shared with AP News that  “this was not a case involving fake 20 dollar bills or tax cheats.” Instead, “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.” 

Survivors argue that more than 100 women were assaulted from July 2015 until Nassar’s arrest. Grace French, founder of The Army of Survivors, shared that “no one should have been assaulted after the summer of 2015 because the FBI should have done its job.” She continued, “to know that the FBI could have helped to avoid this trauma disgusts me.” 

While the FBI has declined to comment directly in response to this lawsuit, FBI Director Christopher Wray shared this when called to testify before Congress in 2020. “I’m sorry that so many different people let you down, over and over again,” he told survivors. “And I’m especially sorry that there were people at the FBI who had their own chance to stop this monster back in 2015 and failed. And that’s inexcusable. It never should have happened.”

Michigan State University’s Failure to Act

While the inspector general’s report on the FBI’s investigation highlighted that the FBI failed to act multiple times, Michigan State University is also accused of missing numerous chances over Nassar’s tenure as an employee to stop the sexual assaults. In 2017 MSU agreed to pay $500 million to more than 300 girls and women who Nassar assaulted.

Over 300 teens and women, some as young as 12, were sexually assaulted by Nassar. His role gave him access to these young women as they competed at the elite level. Many of the survivors have represented and won Olympic medals for Team USA, including Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, and Aly Raisman.

As part of the settlement reached with USA Gymnastics, survivors demanded changes to the organization’s health and safety processes and procedures. Many of the survivors have stepped into roles that drive change, including holding positions on the USA Gymnastics’ board of directors and as committee members.

Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison in Michign for pleading guilty to multiple counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. First, he must serve a 60 year federal sentence for child pornography. More than 200 survivors shared their impact statements during his trials and sentencing hearings. It’s believed that Nassar assaulted teens and young women for decades.