Justice Department reaches $139 million settlement over FBI failures in investigation of Nassar gymnastics abuse claims

Saul Loeb/AP

U.S. gymnasts from left, Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Maggie Nichols, arrive to testify during a Senate Judiciary hearing on the inspector general’s report on the FBI’s handling of the investigation into Larry Nassar on Capitol Hill, September 15, 2021. in Washington.


The Justice Department has reached a $138.7 million settlement with more than 100 victims of disgraced former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar following initial failures by the FBI in its investigation into the sexual assault case.

More than 150 women and girls, including Olympic athletes, have alleged that Nassar sexually assaulted them under the guise of medical treatment. The FBI failed to investigate their allegations, victims say.

Nassar, who was convicted of sexually abusing young athletes under the guise of medical treatment, was sentenced in a Michigan state court to up to 175 years in prison.

“For decades, Lawrence Nassar abused his position, betraying the trust of those in his care and medical supervision while avoiding his responsibilities,” Benjamin Mizer, acting assistant attorney general, said in a statement Tuesday. . “These allegations should have been taken seriously from the start. While these settlements will not undo the harm Nassar inflicted, we hope they will help provide victims of his crimes with the critical support they need to continue their healing.

The Justice Department acknowledged its failures in a scathing inspector general report that found top officials at the FBI’s Indianapolis field office failed to respond to Nassar’s allegations, made numerous fundamental errors when they responded and violated several FBI policies when they undertook their investigative activities.

John Manly, an attorney for Nassar’s victims, told CNN’s Jake Tapper Tuesday evening that the settlement was a relief.

“It’s on one level a feeling of victory, but also on some level a deep sadness to know that if the FBI had acted when this was reported…more than 100 children would not have been molested by Larry Nassar.” , Manly said.

“This ends one of the darkest chapters – if not the darkest chapter – in American sports history,” the lawyer added.

But Manly said there were still officers who mishandled the investigation and had not been held accountable, adding “that’s not justice.”

“So (the settlement) is an imperfect outcome, but it’s an outcome that I’m very proud of, and I think our customers are proud of.” And it was the result of a massive struggle.

In 2021, Nassar’s victims reached a $380 million settlement with USA Gymnastics, the United States Olympic Committee and their insurers. In 2022, the DOJ proposed entering into settlement discussions with sexual assault survivors.

This story has been updated with additional details.

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