Former Olympic gymnasts Simone Biles, Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney are part of a group of nearly 90 victims of Larry Nassar are seeking over $1billion from the FBI for failing to stop the sports doctor’s abuse even after hearing of allegations against him.
The women plan to file a series of tort claims against the Justice Department and the FBI, seeking a collective total of about $1 billion, their lawyers said Wednesday.
The FBI in 2015 knew that Nassar, a former doctor for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University, was accused of assaulting gymnasts, but did not act, allowing him to continue his abuse of girls under his care for over a year. Nassar pleaded guilty in 2017 and will likely spend the rest of his life behind bars.
‘The FBI knew that Larry Nassar was a danger to children when his abuse of me was first reported in September of 2015,’ gymnast Maggie Nichols 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 molesting young women and girls. It is time for the FBI to be held accountable.’
Under federal law, a government agency has six months to respond to the tort claims filed Wednesday. Depending on the FBI’s response, lawsuits could follow.
There are approximately 90 claimants, including Biles, Raisman and Maroney, all Olympic gold medalists.
Maroney, Biles, Raisman and Nichols recounted their abuse before the Senate Judiciary Committee in September after the DOJ Inspector General’s report revealed the FBI’s inaction.
At the time, Biles said: ‘It truly feels that the FBI turned a blind eye to us and went out of its way to protect USAG and USOPC. A message needs to be sent: if you allow a predator to harm children, the consequences will be swift and severe. Enough is enough.’
Maroney told lawmakers in the fall how she spent three hours on the phone with the FBI during the summer of 2015, detailing every instance of abuse she experienced.
‘After telling my entire story of abuse to the FBI in the summer of 2015 not only did the FBI not report my abuse, but when they eventually documented my report 17 months later they made entirely false claims about what I said,’ Maroney said during the hearing.
Hundreds of women and girls detailed the abuse they faced at the hands of Nassar, someone who was supposed to be a caregiver. In 2017, he was sentenced to 60 years for child pornography and other charges. He pleaded guilty again in 2018 and was sentenced to an additional 40 to 175 years for multiple counts of sexual assault of minors.
FBI Director Chris Wray, who was not in his role at the time of Nassar’s abuse, apologized for the bureau’s failures at a Senate hearing.
‘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 at the FBI who had their own chance to stop this monster back in in 2015 and failed.’
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