Olympic medalists Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, and McKayla Maroney, along with dozens of other women, are suing the FBI for failing to act on sexual assault allegations against team doctor Larry Nassar when the agency first received reports of his abuse in 2015. The group of survivors is seeking over $1 billion in damages.
“If the FBI had simply done its job, Nassar would have been stopped before he ever had the chance to abuse hundreds of girls, including me,” Samantha Roy, a former gymnast at the University of Michigan, told the Associated Press.
Local FBI agents were first alerted by the Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics about sexual assault allegations in 2015 after three young gymnasts reported they’d been assaulted by Nassar in supposed medical treatments. Instead of swiftly responding to the situation, the investigative agency inexplicably did...nothing, including failing to alert local or federal Michigan authorities. In 2016, Los Angeles agents opened a sexual tourism investigation against Nassar, and while they did interview victims, they still failed to alert Michigan authorities. Nassar wasn’t arrested until the fall of 2016, after an investigation by Michigan State University police.
During the gut-wrenching trial in 2018, Nassar sat in silence as
dozens of accusers took the stand and tearfully delivered graphic testimonies about the abuse they suffered at the hands of the sports doctor who weaponized his power, without interference, for years. In the aftermath of the grueling trial, which sentenced Nassar to 175 years in prison, Biles has been candid about her mental health struggles—a topic that became the focal point of her shocking decision to withdraw from team competitions at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
“If you looked at everything I’ve gone through for the past seven years, I should have never made another Olympic team. I should have quit way before Tokyo when Larry Nassar was in the media for two years,” she told New York Magazine, of her state of mind, during an interview in 2021.
During a statement before the Senate Judiciary Committee in September 2021, FBI Director Christopher Wray apologized on behalf of his bureau to the young women for the agency’s failures. “I want to be crystal clear: The actions—and inaction—of the FBI employees detailed in this report are totally unacceptable. These individuals betrayed the core duty that they have of protecting people. They failed to protect young women and girls from abuse.”
As for the local FBI agents who failed to alert Michigan authorities or open a formal investigation, the Justice Department recently announced they won’t be filing criminal charges for their gross negligence.
The agency’s track record is rife with failures that have resulted in massive lawsuits. In 2018, the FBI paid $127.5 million to the families and victims of the Parkland mass shooting at Florida’s Marjory Stonemason Douglas High School. The agency’s South Florida office had failed to act on a tip they’d received five weeks beforehand. Seventeen students were killed.
Hopefully, this latest attempt to hold the bureau accountable, and the money it’s bleeding in lawsuits, will serve as a future reminder to the FBI to do its damn job.