US Olympic gymnasts Aly Raisman, Simone Biles, and McKayla Maroney, along with dozens of others, are seeking more than $1 billion from the FBI over its mishandling of the sexual abuse case against Larry Nassar.
Lawyers representing about 90 of Nassar's victims filed a federal torts claim on Wednesday, they told BuzzFeed News. Based on how the agency responds, it could eventually lead to a lawsuit.
The claimants argue that the FBI's initial hesitance to charge Nassar — failing to take action for over a year, despite multiple reports of his abuse — allowed more gymnasts to be victimized by the physician under the pretense of medical treatment. A congressional report released in July 2019 said the FBI, as well as the US Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics, and Michigan State University, "sat on evidence of his sexual misconduct for over a year — allowing for the additional sexual abuse of dozens of other girls."
The claim comes just two weeks after the Department of Justice announced it would not bring federal criminal charges against two former FBI agents who handled the Nassar case.
Samantha Roy, a former University of Michigan gymnast, said in a statement Wednesday that the decision not to prosecute the agents has made her and the other claimants "more determined than ever to expose the FBI’s failures and demand accountability."
“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,” Roy said.
Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison in 2018 after pleading guilty to sexual abuse and child pornography charges. More than 100 of his victims spoke at his sentencing hearing, confronting Nassar about the abuse, which occurred when most of them were teenagers.
In September 2021, Raisman, Biles, Maroney, and champion gymnast Maggie Nichols testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about how the FBI botched its investigation into Nassar.
"We suffered and continue to suffer, because no one at FBI, [USA Gymnastics], or the [United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee] did what was necessary to protect us,” Biles said at the time. “We have been failed, and we deserve answers. Nassar is where he belongs, but those who enabled him deserve to be held accountable."
The FBI declined to comment on the federal torts claim on Wednesday but pointed to remarks made by Director Christopher Wray at the 2021 hearing, where he apologized to the gymnasts and called the agency's inaction "totally unacceptable."
"I’m deeply and profoundly sorry to each and every one of you," Wray said. "I’m sorry for what you and your families have been through. I’m sorry that so many different people let you down, over and over again. And I’m especially sorry that there were people at the FBI who had their own chance to stop this monster back in 2015 and failed."