Nassar victims, including Simone Biles, are suing the FBI for early investigative errors

WASHINGTON – More than 90 women who say they were sexually assaulted by Lawrence G. Nassar, the former doctor of USA Gymnastics who was convicted of state charges of sexual assault, filed a lawsuit against the FBI on Wednesday for failing to investigate him when it became credible. information about his crimes.

The lawsuit comes two weeks after the Justice Department decided not to prosecute two former FBI agents accused of confusing the agency’s 2015 investigation into Mr. Nassar so he could assault more than 70 girls and women for more than a year before Michigan authorities arrested him.

The agents were accused by the Ministry of Justice’s own watchdog of making false statements about the case. In the fall, Christopher A. Wray, the FBI director, testified to Congress that “it was the people at the FBI who had the chance to stop this monster back in 2015 and failed.”

The Justice Department said it would not prosecute the agents involved in what Wray has called “gross misconduct” because there was not enough evidence to file a federal criminal case.

Applicants include Olympic gymnastics medalists Simone Biles, Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney and national gymnastics medalist Maggie Nichols, as well as former University of Michigan gymnast Samantha Roy and former Michigan State University gymnast Kaylee Lorincz, who now works as a spokeswoman for victims of sexual abuse.

“My other survivors and I were betrayed by all the institutions that were supposed to protect us – the United States Olympic Committee, the United States Gymnastics, the FBI and now the Department of Justice,” Maroney said in a statement. “It is clear that the only way to justice and healing is through the legal process,” she added.

The plaintiffs are claiming various amounts of compensation, but their total claims will exceed $ 1 billion, their attorney, John C. Manly, said in a statement.

Mr Nassar, who was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison, was accused of abusing hundreds of girls and women, including many members of the US Olympic gymnastics teams in 2012 and 2016.

The FBI’s field office in Indianapolis received evidence of his crimes in 2015. Agents continued to interview gymnasts, including Maroney, who gave detailed testimony. Ultimately, they took no action to increase the investigation or stop Mr. Nassar, who continued to treat dozens of patients, including those in Michigan State; Twistars Gymnastics Club in Dimondale, Mich .; and Holt High School in Michigan.

The FBI also failed to notify state or local police authorities of allegations of child abuse against Nassar, according to the Justice Department inspector general, who last summer released a report on the FBI’s mismanagement of the case, almost five years after Nassar. was arrested for federal child pornography. His arrest stemmed from an investigation conducted by the Michigan State University Police Department after a 16-year-old had come forward about his abuse.

The inspector general accused W. Jay Abbott, who was in charge of the agency’s field office in Indianapolis, and Michael Langeman, an agent in that office, of making false statements to investigators investigating how they and others in the FBI handled the Nassar case.

Mr. Langeman was fired two weeks before Ms. Biles, Ms. Maroney, Ms. Raisman and Ms. Nichols gave heartbreaking testimony to Congress about the FBI’s handling of the Nassar case. Among Mr. Langeman’s mistakes was waiting 17 months to document his interview with Maroney, the first victim of Mr. Nassar to be interviewed by the FBI.

In September 2015, two months after the agency learned of Nassar’s actions from USA Gymnastics, Langeman interviewed her during a three-hour phone call.

Maroney was 19 years old and had not even told her mother that Nassar had sexually abused her for many years, from the age of 13, and included for hours twice a day at the London Games, where Maroney won a gold medal. In his testimony to Congress, Maroney recalled that Langeman ended the interview by saying, “Is that all?”

According to Maroney, Langeman’s delayed report, filed in 2017, contained several false statements, including that Nassar had penetrated her anal and that it had helped reduce back pain.

The report also said that Ms. Nichols and Ms. Raisman refused to be interviewed by the FBI, which they said was not true.

“They chose to lie about what I said and protect a serial child abuser instead of protecting not only me but countless others,” Maroney told Congress in September.

In a report released last summer, the inspector general said that Abbott, who withdrew from the FBI during the investigation, made false statements “to minimize mistakes made by the Indianapolis field office in dealing with the Nassar charges.”

He also said that Abbott spoke to USA Gymnastics about potential job opportunities while asking the organization about the allegations against Mr. Nassar, actions that violated FBI guidelines.

Credit…Matthew Dae Smith / Lansing State Journal, via AP

The inspector general’s report said that the FBI abused witness interviews and did not share credible information about abuse with relevant authorities.

It also found that Nassar sexually abused 70 or more athletes between July 2015, when USA Gymnastics first reported charges against him to the FBI’s field office in Indianapolis, and August 2016, when the Michigan State University Police Department received a separate complaint.

The women who are suing the FBI say they were abused during this period.

“If the FBI had just done its job,” Roy said in a statement, “Nassar would have been stopped before he had ever had the chance to abuse hundreds of girls, including me.”