The feds might be looking to settle a lawsuit over their bungling of the Larry Nassar case where the sports doctor abused dozens of gymnasts and women, including gold medalist Simone Biles.
The FBI’s general counsel reached out to the lawyers of superstar gymnasts Biles, Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney, as well as dozens more women Wednesday who are seeking $1 billion from the federal government, three people familiar with the matter told the Associated Press.
The FBI’s attorneys told the lawyers for the women that the bureau was “interested” in finding a resolution to the case, including a possible settlement after the feds received the monster legal claim last month, the sources said.
Victims of Nassar, who pleaded guilty to criminal sexual conduct involving hundreds of female athletes, brought the claims against the FBI accusing the agency of not stopping Nassar years earlier when allegations against him first surfaced.
FBI agents were made aware in 2015 that three gymnasts said they were assaulted by Nassar, but failed to open a formal investigation or inform federal or state authorities in Michigan, the Justice Department’s inspector general said.
A sex tourism investigation into Nassar was opened in Los Angeles in 2016, but again agents did not tell Michigan authorities, the inspector general said.
Nassar was finally arrested in the fall of 2016 by school police at Michigan State University, where he was a doctor. But before that time, he was able to continue his abuse of young women and girls — roughly 90 — between July 2015 and September 2016, attorneys claim in the legal action against the FBI.
“The FBI knew that Larry Nassar was a danger to children when his abuse of me was first reported in September of 2015,” gymnast and victim Maggie Nichols said in a statement last month. “For 421 days they worked with USA Gymnastics and (United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee) 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.”
Attorney Jamie White, who is representing 13 victims of Nassar, confirmed to the Wall Street Journal that Justice Department officials contacted him. He planned to tell them he was also open to starting a conversation about the claims.
“This has been an unusual case since its inception in 2015, and I think the government recognizes the extraordinary significance,” White told The Journal, adding he and his clients appreciate the government reaching out.
Former federal agents involved in the mishandling of the case and accused of giving inaccurate or incomplete responses to the inspector general during that probe did not face charges.
Senior Justice Department officials and members of Congress met Thursday about not charging the ex-agents.
“The FBI again refused to provide underlying information to support their assumption that a jury wouldn’t convict their agents for botching the Nassar investigation, then trying to cover their tracks,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley. “It’s the latest example of the Department of ‘Just Us’ trying to avoid accountability for its failures.”
FBI Director Christopher Wray has previously admitted the FBI made major mistakes in the Nassar case that were “inexcusable.”
With Post wires
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