Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, and McKayla Maroney are joined by about 90 other girls and women in seeking over $1 billion dollars from the FBI after the bureau’s bungled investigation into Larry Nassar’s decades of sexual abuse. Nassar, estimated to have assaulted over 300 victims over the course of his career as a doctor employed by USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University, is currently in prison, where he will spend the rest of his life serving back-to-back 60-year and 175-year sentences for his crimes. But unfortunately, the traumatic saga isn’t over yet.
The three most famous plaintiffs, with eight Olympic golds and countless more medals between them, have courageously stopped up to be the public faces of the trial throughout the past several years, along with two-time NCAA champion and “Athlete A,” Maggie Nichols. Their moving testimonies helped put Nassar away, but as Biles pointed out, the failure to protect the young gymnasts was not his alone, but the responsibility of all the authority figures involved.
Michigan State and USAG have settled with the gymnasts and paid out. But the FBI, while admitting to its negligence in handling the case after the abuse was first reported in 2015, has yet to do anything but acknowledge the horrible treatment of the victims and issue an apology.
When USAG first reported the abuse to the Indianapolis office of the FBI in 2015, they didn’t take the accusations seriously. Not only did they fail to report anything to authorities in Michigan, where Nassar was a state employee at MSU, but they only called and spoke to one of three complainants.
This failure to act allowed Nassar’s abuse to continue for over a year, during which he reportedly targeted 70 more victims, until he was finally arrested in September 2016 after a separate investigation by state authorities.
Despite the severe mishandling of the case that allowed even more girls and women to be subjected to sexual assault, the Department of Justice declined to press charges against the agents who ignored and later falsified the victims’ reports, even after finding that they “failed to respond to the Nassar allegations with the utmost seriousness and urgency that they deserved and required, made numerous and fundamental errors when they did respond to them, and violated multiple FBI policies,” including fabricating parts of the long-belated report, and that the two men gave inaccurate or incomplete answers to questions during the DOJ’s investigation.
These women have now been forced to relive and retell the story of their abuse as underage girls countless times throughout the investigation, trial, and aftermath. The two FBI agents involved deeply disrespected the victims (after Maroney gave her initial interview over the phone, former FBI agent Michael Langeman said, “is that all?” and proceed not to file an official report for two years), and the gymnasts absolutely deserve to be compensated for the way they were treated when they attempted to do the right (and incredibly hard) thing and report a trusted authority figure.
They’re filing the complaint under the Federal Tort Claims Act. It’s not technically a lawsuit yet, but if the FBI doesn’t respond to the administrative claim within six months, the women can then file a suit in civil court. Per NPR, an attorney involved in the claim said that a recent comparable and successful case was settled in March, in which the Justice Department paid over $100 million to the parents of the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas shooting victims without admitting fault.