Team USA gymnasts sue FBI for $1B
FILE - United States gymnasts from left, Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Maggie Nichols, arrive to testify during a Senate Judiciary hearing about the Inspector General's report on the FBI's handling of the Larry Nassar investigation on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Washington. Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles and dozens of other women who say they were sexually assaulted by Larry Nassar are seeking more than $1 billion from the FBI for failing to stop the now convicted sports doctor when the agency first received allegations against him, lawyers said Wednesday, June 8, 2022. (Saul Loeb/Pool via AP, File)
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A group of 90 gymnasts and former gymnasts who were sexually assaulted by Larry Nassar are suing the Indianapolis FBI for mishandling the case. The gymnasts allege that the Indianapolis FBI didn’t intervene for over a year after investigating Nassar and discovering his gruesome crimes.

During that time, the plaintiffs allege, Nassar continued to abuse gymnasts under the guise of “medical treatment.” The gymnasts in the suit include Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, and McKayla Maroney, among other world renowned athletes. 

The group is suing the Indianapolis FBI for over $1 billion. The lawsuit was filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act, which entitles plaintiffs to compensation from the government for injuries “caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission of any employee of the Government while acting within the scope of his office or employment.” 

Maggie Nichols, a former Team USA gymnast, noted “The FBI knew that Larry Nassar was a danger to children when his abuse of me was first reported in September of 2015. For 421 days they worked with USA Gymnastics and USOPC to hide this information from the public and allowed Nassar to continue molesting young women and girls.”

Nichols continued in a statement through her attorney, “It is time for the FBI to be held accountable.” 

In 2018, Nassar was sentenced to between 40 and 175 years in prison for sexually assaulting gymnasts for years. The judge in the case noted proudly that Nassar would spend the rest of his life in prison. 

Meanwhile, the gymnasts allege that more women could have been saved from sexual abuse if the Indianapolis FBI had acted faster. In 2015, USA Gymnastics reached out to the Indianapolis FBI field office regarding Nassar, but their efforts were in vain, as nothing came of that contact. 

A year later, after Nassar continued to sexually assault and abuse children, USA Gymnastics again reached out to the FBI, this time to a Los Angeles branch. The LA office eventually completed a thorough investigation, leading to Nassar’s arrest and charges. 

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz found that “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.”

 This is the second lawsuit brought against the FBI by Team USA gymnasts and former gymnasts. In April, 13 gymnasts filed a similar lawsuit, after the Justice Department released a report that the Indianapolis FBI failed to properly investigate Nassar.  

Following the April lawsuit, the Indianapolis FBI released a statement admitting its wrongdoing. However, the agents who allegedly mishandled the investigation were never charged – despite both agents admitting to lying to federal investigators regarding their roles in the case. 

According to gymnast McKayla Maroney, “My fellow survivors and I were betrayed by every institution that was supposed to protect us — the US Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics, the FBI and now the Department of Justice. It is clear that the only path to justice and healing is through the legal process.”

Erika Stone is a graduate student in the Master of Social Work program at the University of Oklahoma, and a graduate assistant at Schusterman Library. A Chess Memorial Scholar, she has a B.A. in Psychology...