Biden Admin agrees to pay $139 million to victims for FBI failures in sex abuse investigation | Eastern North Carolina Now

 

4/23/2024

Tom Ozimek, writing for the Epoch Times, reports:

The Biden administration has agreed to pay over $138 million to victims of convicted sex abuser Larry Nassar while acknowledging the FBI’s failures to properly investigate warnings that the sports physician was exploiting his position to molest young girls under the guise of treatment.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) said in an April 23 statement that it had settled 139 civil claims arising from allegations of sexual abuse committed by Mr. Nassar, who was earlier found guilty of having abused hundreds of victims under the pretext of performing medical treatments.

The settlements—which total $138.7 million—resolve administrative claims made against the DOJ alleging that the FBI failed to carry out an adequate investigation into Mr. Nassar’s actions.

A DOJ watchdog found in July 2021 that parts of the FBI’s response to allegations against Mr. Nassar, as well as the agency’s investigation into his actions, were inadequate.

The “FBI failed to conduct an adequate investigation of Nassar’s conduct,” Acting Associate Attorney General Benjamin Mizer said in a statement.

“For decades, Lawrence Nassar abused his position, betraying the trust of those under his care and medical supervision while skirting accountability,” he continued.

“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,” Mr. Mizer added.

The $138.7 million will be distributed to the claimants.

There have been other settlements involving Mr. Nassar, who was the U.S. women’s gymnastics team doctor.

In total, settlements concerning the convicted sex abuser have totaled nearly $1 billion, including Michigan State University agreeing to pay $500 million to over 300 women and girls whom he assaulted.

‘Institutional Betrayal’
After allegations of Mr. Nassar’s abuse were first reported to the FBI Indianapolis Field Office by the president of USA Gymnastics in 2015, local field agents failed to respond “with the utmost seriousness and urgency that the allegations deserved and required,” the 2021 report by the DOJ’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) found.

Further, the report found that two FBI officials lied during their interviews to cover up or minimize their errors. One of the agents also made a false statement to the media in 2017 and 2018 about how his office handled the Nassar case.

That agent also violated the FBI’s conflict of interest policy by discussing a possible job with the U.S. Olympic Committee while he was involved with the Nassar investigation.

The watchdog noted the seriousness of the former agents lying during the investigation into their conduct in the years after the events but said there wasn’t enough to bring a federal criminal case.

The Justice Department has acknowledged that it failed to step in. For more than a year, FBI agents in Indianapolis and Los Angeles had knowledge of allegations against him but apparently took no action, an internal investigation found.

FBI Director Christopher Wray spoke to survivors of Mr. Nassar’s abuse at a Senate hearing in 2021, expressing contrition for the agency’s failures. The assault survivors include decorated Olympians Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, and McKayla Maroney.

“I’m sorry that so many different people let you down, over and over again,” Mr. Wray said. “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.”

After a search, investigators said in 2016 that they had found images of child sex abuse and followed up with federal charges against Mr. Nassar.

Separately, the Michigan attorney general’s office handled the assault charges that ultimately shocked the sports world and led to an extraordinary dayslong sentencing hearing with gripping testimony about his crimes.

“I’m deeply grateful. Accountability with the Justice Department has been a long time in coming,” Rachael Denhollander of Louisville, Kentucky, told The Associated Press. She is not part of the latest settlement but was the first person to publicly step forward and detail abuse at the hands of Mr. Nassar.

“The unfortunate reality is that what we are seeing today is something that most survivors never see,” Ms. Denhollander said. “Most survivors never see accountability. Most survivors never see justice. Most survivors never get restitution.”

The Army of Survivors (TAOS), an organization created by a group of over 40 survivors of sexual violence, praised the settlement but had words of criticism for what it characterized as “institutional betrayal” of Mr. Nassar’s victims.

“No amount of money can truly compensate for the pain and suffering endured by the athlete-survivors, a direct result of negligence and institutional betrayal by the very systems designed to safeguard them,” the group said in an emailed statement to The Epoch Times.

“However, the acceptance of this settlement brings a semblance of closure, marking the resolution of the last remaining legal battle against the network of institutions that failed in their response to the allegations against Nassar,” it added.

TAOS added that, after the dust settles from the DOJ’s admission of institutional failure, efforts must turn to embedding the lessons learned from the case into the fabric of athletic institutions in the country.

The FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the settlement.
 

 


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