A group of more than 90 young women — including U.S. Olympic gymnastics stars Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, and McKayla Maroney — filed federal tort claims against the FBI on Wednesday seeking more than $1 billion in damages for the bureau’s failure to act on sexual assault allegations against former USA gymnastics doctor, Larry Nassar.
In the lawsuit, the majority of claimants say they may have never suffered abuse at the hands of Nassar if only the FBI had done its job starting in 2015 when agents were made aware of allegations against him. But over the following year, the claimants allege the bureau failed to act, thus allowing the predator to abuse more your women and girls, NBC News reported.
It wasn’t until December 2016 that Nassar was finally indicted on federal child pornography charges amid a flurry of state-level sexual assault charges. In January 2018, the disgraced doctor pleaded guilty to his crimes and is now serving essentially a life sentence behind bars.
A Congressional investigation in 2019 found that the FBI, the U.S. Olympic Committee, and USA Gymnastics were all aware of the allegations against Nassar in 2015 but sat on the information for 421 days — failing to even warn Nassar’s employer at the time, Michigan State University, that he was accused of abusing girls.
“It is time for the FBI to be held accountable,” said Maggie Nichols, a national champion gymnast at Oklahoma in 2017-19, according to the Associated Press.
“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,” added former University of Michigan gymnast Samantha Roy.
The lawsuits follow the Justice Department’s stunning decision last month not to prosecute two FBI agents accused of bungling the original investigation and subsequently misleading other investigators.
“My fellow survivors and I were betrayed by every institution that was supposed to protect us — the U.S. Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics, the FBI, and now the Department of Justice,” Maroney said in a blistering statement. “It is clear that the only path to justice and healing is through the legal process.”
The claims are collectively being filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act, a law that enables people to seek redress if they believe they have been harmed by negligent or wrongful actions of the federal government. Under the law, the bureau will now have six months to respond. Depending on their response, formal lawsuits front claimants could follow.
Each individual claim seeks a differing amount in damages, but together the claims amount to more than $1 billion, confirmed their lawyer, John C. Manly, in a statement.
As of Wednesday morning, neither the FBI nor the Justice Department had responded publicly to the tort claims.