A group of women gymnasts, including four-time Olympic champion Simone Biles, are suing the FBI for more than $1 billion for its failure to stop U.S. women’s team doctor Larry Nassar from sexually abusing them.
A total of 90 gymnasts have joined in federal tort claims against the FBI, which has admitted that its agents knew about Nassar’s abuses as early as 2015, but failed to act, leaving him free to continue his crimes for another year before his arrest by local law enforcement. It was during that year-long period that most of those signed up to the FBI lawsuit say there were abused.
Nassar, who served as U.S. women’s team doctor for 18 years, was sentenced in 2018 to between 40 and 175 years in prison after admitting that he had molested some of the sport’s biggest names under the guise of providing “medical treatment.”
“I just signed your death warrant,” the judge told him, proudly.
But the survivors of his abuse remain furious that he was allowed to continue treating—and molesting—his victims on the national team and at Michigan State University, where he also had a clinic, even after the FBI found out about his crimes. He was eventually arrested in 2016 after an investigation by Michigan State University Police.
The Justice Department announced last month that after a review of the facts it was sticking by its decision not to press criminal charges against two former agents at the FBI field office in Indianapolis accused of mishandling the Nassar investigation.
But the Nassar abuse victims say that is not good enough.
McKayla Maroney, who won the team gold medal at the 2012 London Games, said in a statement: “My fellow survivors and I were betrayed by every institution that was supposed to protect us—the U.S. Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics, the FBI, and now the Department of Justice. It is clear that the only path to justice and healing is through the legal process.”
“It is time for the FBI to be held accountable,” added Maggie Nichols, a former national champion.
According to NBC News, the claims are being filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act, which offers redress to those hurt by federal government negligence or wrongdoing.
A group of 13 other Nassar victims filed a similar claim against the FBI in April, seeking $130 million in damages. The latest claims include some of Nassar’s most prominent accusers, including Biles, Maroney, and Aly Raisman, who captained the victorious American women in the team event at both London 2012 and Rio 2016.
Asked about the earlier claim, the FBI declined to comment, referring reporters to an apology to Nassar’s victims delivered by FBI Director Christopher Wray at a Senate hearing last year: “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.”