Justice Department won’t prosecute former FBI agents accused of mishandling Nassar case

WASHINGTON — Two former FBI agents accused of bungling the bureau’s investigation into Lawrence G. Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics doctor who was convicted of state sex abuse and federal child pornography charges , will not be prosecuted, the Ministry of Justice announced on Thursday.

The decision ends a review the department initiated in October, months after its inspector general released a scathing report that strongly criticized the FBI’s handling of the case, which was brought to the bureau’s office in Indianapolis. in July 2015.

The FBI’s failure to act on the information it received allowed Mr. Nassar to assault other girls. Hundreds of patients, including many members of the U.S. women’s Olympic gymnastics teams, claim he abused them under the guise of medical treatment.

Former agents W. Jay Abbott, who was in charge of the bureau’s field office in Indianapolis, and Michael Langeman, who worked in that office, were accused by the Justice Department watchdog of making false statements when he considered the case.

“It in no way reflects the view that the investigation of Nassar was conducted as it should have been, nor does it in any way reflect approval of or contempt for the conduct of former agents,” said the department in a statement, adding that the decision reflected advice from experienced prosecutors.

Although the Justice Department acknowledged that the officers appeared to have made false statements, it said prosecutors did not have enough evidence to press charges.

Mr. Nassar’s victims and their representatives blasted the decision.

“The Justice Department’s continued failure to bring criminal charges against FBI agents, USA Gymnastics and United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee officials who conspired to cover up the biggest sexual abuse scandal in history sports is incomprehensible,” said John C. Manly, an attorney who represented some of the survivors.

Last summer, Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz accused Mr. Abbott of making false statements to his investigators on numerous occasions when questioned about the Nassar case. , “to downplay errors made by the Indianapolis field office in handling the Nassar allegations.

He also said Mr. Abbott violated FBI policy by discussing potential employment opportunities with USA Gymnastics at the same time he spoke to the organization about the allegations against Mr. Nassar.

Mr Abbott retired from the FBI in 2018, three years before the inspector general completed his report. Mr. Langeman was fired shortly after the report was released. But the Justice Department chose not to prosecute either man.

Mr. Nassar’s victims, their families and members of Congress were outraged by the Inspector General’s findings and the Justice Department’s decision not to investigate whether FBI agents should face criminal charges because they were suspected of lying to investigators.

Three months later, Assistant Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco told Congress that new information had come to light, prompting him to have the case reviewed by the head of the department’s criminal division.

“I want survivors to understand how seriously we take this issue and believe it deserves a thorough and comprehensive review,” Ms Monaco said last October.

The victims “had been promised to act” by Ms Monaco, Mr Manly said. “There has been no action for over six months and now that promise to survivors has been broken.”

The FBI met with several gymnasts in 2015 who accused Mr. Nassar of abuse, including McKayla Maroney, an Olympic gold medalist who detailed those allegations in a three-hour interview. She testified before Congress that the FBI responded to her story by saying, “Is that all?

“Not only did the FBI fail to report my abuse, but when they finally documented my report 17 months later, they made entirely false statements about what I said,” Ms Maroney said. “They chose to lie about what I said and protect a serial pedophile.”

Mr Nassar continued to sexually assault dozens of girls after Ms Maroney spoke to the FBI and was charged by the state of Michigan in 2017. He is serving what amounts to life in prison.

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