DETROIT — Thirteen Larry Nassar sexual assault survivors are seeking $10 million each from the FBI, alleging that a botched investigation by agents led to more abuse by the sports doctor, attorneys said Thursday.
It’s an effort to hold the government accountable for abuses that occurred after 2015. The Justice Department’s inspector general concluded last year that the FBI made fundamental mistakes when it learned of the allegations against Nassar that year.
Nassar was a sports physician at Michigan State University, as well as a physician for USA Gymnastics. He is now serving decades in prison for assaulting female athletes, including Olympic medal-winning gymnasts.
“We spend so much energy and resources encouraging kids to speak up when they’ve been abused,” said attorney Jamie White. “So the fact that people have applied to the most powerful security agency in the world and been turned away — it’s a slap in the face.”
White has not yet sued the FBI. Under federal law, tort claims must be filed with a government agency, which then has six months to respond. A lawsuit could follow depending on the FBI’s response.
“No one should have been targeted after the summer of 2015 because the FBI should have done their job,” said Grace French, founder of a group called The Army of Survivors. “Knowing that the FBI could have helped prevent this trauma disgusts me.”
The inspector general’s investigation was fueled by allegations that the FBI did not immediately address complaints filed in 2015 against Nassar. Months passed before agents opened a formal investigation.
Nassar was arrested by state authorities in November 2016.
FBI Director Christopher Wray has said he is “deeply and exceedingly sorry” for the delays in prosecuting Nassar and the pain it caused.
The Michigan attorney general’s office ultimately handled the assault charges, while federal prosecutors in Grand Rapids, Michigan brought a child pornography case against Nassar.