The claims allege that the agents involved in investigating Nassar chose to "turn a blind eye" to the sexual abuse that he was carrying out and accuse them of negligence and wrongful acts. The administrative tort claims amount to $10 million for each victim.
Nassar formerly served as a doctor for the USA Gymnastics team and Michigan State University. He is now serving a 60-year sentence in federal prison for child molestation. He was also sentenced to 40 to 175 years in state prison in Michigan after he pleaded guilty to seven counts of criminal sexual conduct.
FBI field offices in Indianapolis and Los Angeles are targeted in the filing for their failure to act properly on the victims' allegations of sexual abuse. Although the FBI declined to comment on the matter, they did refer to testimony made by Director Christopher Wray before the Senate Judiciary Committee last year. On that occasion, Wray said the agents' "actions and inaction" were "inexcusable and a discredit to this organization and the values we hold dear."
The legal claims are based on the findings of an Inspector General's report that was released last year, indicating that senior officials at the FBI's field office failed to respond to the allegations and made numerous fundamental errors when they did respond. They also violated several FBI policies while carrying out their investigation.
The federal investigation found that the former head of the Indianapolis FBI field office, Jay Abbott, made false statements to investigators and “violated FBI policy and exercised extremely poor judgment under federal ethics rules.”
In Senate testimony last September, Olympic gymnasts Simone Biles and McKayla Maroney complained about the Justice Department and the FBI's mishandling of their abuse allegations and claimed they made false statements in the fallout of the investigation. Wray said at the time that he was "heartsick and furious" to find out about the agency's failures, but insisted that it came down to a few bad individuals rather than a systemic problem. He vowed to "make damn sure that everybody at the FBI remembers what happened here in heartbreaking detail."
Maroney testified that she provided investigators with “extreme details” about Nassar's abuse to Abbott in a traumatic three-hour phone interview. However, not only did the FBI fail to report the abuse, but she claims they made false statements about what she said when they did document her report 17 months after the fact.
She believes that Nassar should have been arrested immediately after the FBI heard her story. Instead, they allowed him to continue in his position, where he was able to molest dozens of other young girls for another year and a half.
Maroney asked the Judiciary Committee: "What is the point of reporting abuse if our own FBI agents are going to take it upon themselves to bury that report in a drawer. They had legal, legitimate evidence of child abuse and did nothing. If they’re not going to protect me, I want to know who are they trying to protect."
Attorney General Merrick Garland apologized for the negligence shown by the FBI in handling the case in a Senate hearing on Tuesday. He characterized their handling of the situation as "a horrible institutional failure," adding: "It is unspeakable. What happened to those gymnasts and also the unspeakable way in which the investigation failed to proceed. We have created institutional changes in that regard to make sure it doesn't happen again."