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Justice Department pays $138.7 million for FBI failures in Nassar case

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The Justice Department said Tuesday it would pay $138.7 million to settle 139 claims over federal failures involving sexual abuse committed by former physician and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.

For nearly 20 years, Nassar sexually abused hundreds of victims under the guise of performing medical treatments. Nassar was arrested in 2016 and sentenced to 60 years in federal prison in 2017 in a shocking case that has had wide-reaching implications for the sport.

Nassar was a sports doctor at Michigan State University and a lead physician for USA Gymnastics.

The settlements resolve claims against the United States alleging that the FBI failed to conduct an adequate investigation of Nassar’s conduct.

In July 2021, the Department’s Office of the Inspector General issued a report critical of some aspects of the FBI’s response to the allegations. That report found serious failures.

“Despite the extraordinarily serious nature of the allegations and the possibility that Nassar’s conduct could be continuing, senior officials in the FBI Indianapolis Field Office failed to respond to the Nassar allegations with the utmost seriousness and urgency that they deserved and required, made numerous and fundamental errors when they did respond to them, and violated multiple FBI policies,” according to the OIG report.

That shouldn’t have happened, said Acting Associate Attorney General Benjamin Mizer.

“For decades, Lawrence Nassar abused his position, betraying the trust of those under his care and medical supervision while skirting accountability,” Mizer said in a statement. “These allegations should have been taken seriously from the outset. While these settlements won’t undo the harm Nassar inflicted, our hope is that they will help give the victims of his crimes some of the critical support they need to continue healing.”

Michigan State University, which was also accused of missing chances to stop Nassar, agreed to pay $500 million to more than 300 victims. USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee reached a $380 million settlement.

In 2022, the Justice Department decided not to charge two former FBI special agents in connection with their involvement in the case.

“While the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General has outlined serious concerns about the former agents’ conduct during the Nassar investigation, and also described how evidence shows that during interviews in the years after the events in question both former agents appear to have provided inaccurate or incomplete information to investigators, the Principles of Federal Prosecution require more to bring a federal criminal case,” the department said in an unsigned report at the time.

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