Home SPORT Justice Department won’t indict FBI agents accused of botching Nassar case

Justice Department won’t indict FBI agents accused of botching Nassar case

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Two former FBI agents accused of mishandling sexual abuse allegations against former US gym doctor Larry Nassar will not be charged with a crime, the Justice Department announced Thursday.

In a statement, officials said that after a “careful review of the evidence,” the department “respects its earlier decision not to pursue federal criminal charges,” adding, “This in no way reflects the views which Nassar’s investigation was treated as it should have been, nor does it in any way reflect approval of or contempt for the conduct of former agents.

John Manly, the attorney for many of Nassar’s alleged victims, called the decision “incomprehensible” and said FBI agents “violated their oath of office and colluded to cover up the worst scandal in sexual assault in the history of sport”. He said the timing of the announcement – shortly before a holiday weekend and during coverage of a school shooting – “is another cynical attempt by the [Justice Department] to cover up the FBI’s complicity” in the Nassar scandal.

The decision marks the third time that federal prosecutors have considered whether a senior FBI official and an agent handling the case should be charged with lying about their work on the Nassar case. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco opened the review after several world-renowned gymnasts in September testified in tears to Congress, describing in gruesome detail the abuse they endured and their disbelief at the FBI’s decision not to investigate Nassar further after the allegations against him first surfaced.

Monaco, announcing the review, said officials would re-examine the matter as new evidence had surfaced. Although she did not specify what that evidence was, lawmakers sharply criticized the Justice Department for not pressing charges after the agency’s inspector general concluded that a supervisory officer and his boss had lied to internal investigators in an attempt to cover up their failures.

Nassar spent thousands of dollars on himself in prison while paying his victims little

Rarely does the Justice Department even consider reopening a case that was dismissed without charge. One of Nassar’s officers retired years ago and the other was fired last summer following Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s scathing report, which revealed Major missteps in the FBI’s handling of the allegations against Nassar in 2015 that allowed it to victimize more patients before. he was arrested by state authorities the following year.

In its statement, the Justice Department said it “will continue to learn from what transpired in this case and undertake efforts to keep victims at the center of our work and to ensure that they are heard, respected, and treated fairly throughout the process “as they deserve,” and said he wanted to work with Congress to close unspecified loopholes in the law to “help prevent events like this does not occur in the future and to hold the perpetrators accountable”.

The senses. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) called the decision “maddening.” In a joint statement, they said: “The FBI agents who knew about Larry Nassar’s abuse, did nothing, and then lied about it will face no legal consequences for their actions. Dozens of athletes would have been spared unimaginable abuses had these officers just done their actions demand accountability.

Simone Biles and three other top gymnasts testified emotionally before the Senate Judiciary Committee last year about Nassar’s abuse and FBI inaction.

“I blame Larry Nassar, and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuses,” Biles told the committee.

More than 330 girls and women have come forward to say they were victimized by Nassar under the guise of medical treatment. He was eventually convicted of state sexual abuse and federal child pornography charges, and is serving an effective life sentence.

Monaco and FBI Director Christopher A. Wray also publicly apologized to Nassar’s victims, and Wray called the bureau’s failures “inexcusable.” This should never have happened and we are doing everything in our power to ensure that it never happens again.

Biles and other gymnasts testify in tears

The primary conduct at issue in the Nassar case occurred well within the federal statute of limitations to prosecute those involved.

Supervisory Special Agent Michael Langeman, who was fired last year, allegedly lied to the inspector general’s office during interviews in 2020 and 2021, according to Horowitz’s report.

Langeman was questioned at length about why he didn’t press charges against Nassar, whether he in fact referred the case to another FBI office and why he wrote an interview report with a victim. wrench more than a year after servicing. place.

The inspector general’s report does not identify Langeman by name, but finds that he lied to investigators “in an effort to minimize or excuse his mistakes.”

Horowitz also discovered that while the FBI was processing the Nassar allegations in late 2015, FBI Indianapolis Bureau Chief W. Jay Abbott spoke to then-USA Gymnastics President Stephen Penny about the possibility of get a job for Abbott with the Olympic Committee. .

The Inspector General said Abbott applied for the job but didn’t get it, and when confronted about it in 2019, he falsely claimed to the Inspector General that he didn’t get it. did not seek the position. Penny quit under pressure from her job at USA Gymnastics in 2017 and was charged in 2018 with tampering with evidence in the sex abuse case. Those charges were dismissed last month. Abbott retired from the FBI.

Langeman and Abbott did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

One of the FBI’s major failures in the Nassar case was not to alert state authorities to the possibility that he was committing sex crimes against children – crimes that state prosecutors could, and eventually did, indict him.

In response to these criticisms, Justice Department officials have asked prosecutors and federal agents to coordinate more closely with state and local law enforcement about potential crimes that may not comply with the law. federal but might still be worth pursuing.

“Even in cases where the federal government cannot bring its own criminal charges, our obligation to protect victims of crime and ensure public safety does not end,” Monaco wrote in a memo from the Ministry of Justice. Justice. “Instead, good coordination with state, local, or tribal law enforcement partners may become more important, especially in the face of apparent and ongoing criminal behavior that puts victims at risk.”

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