‘Absolutely chilling’: Larry Nassar sex abuse reports met with massive FBI failures, DOJ watchdog says

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FBI officials made false statements, failed to respond appropriately and exhibited “extremely poor judgment” in the handling of 2015 sexual abuse allegations against longtime USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, according to a stinging rebuke Wednesday from the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Justice.

The report found that W. Jay Abbott, then the Agent in Charge of the Indianapolis FBI office, and another unnamed agent made false statements and omitted important information in a 2017 report, then lied to inspector general investigators looking into the report. Abbott also provided “materially false statements” during interviews “to minimize errors made by the Indianapolis Field Office.” 

The report added Abbott violated ethics guidelines while negotiating for a job with the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee during the investigation.

“Mr. Abbott has received and reviewed a copy of the report,” Josh Minkler, Barnes & Thornburg partner and legal counsel for Abbott, who retired in 2018, said in a statement. “Mr. Abbott thanks the law enforcement officers and prosecutors who brought Larry Nassar to justice. Mr. Abbott hopes the courageous victims of Nassar’s horrible crime find peace.”

Nassar continued working with athletes for more than a year while the investigation languished. The report said that “according to civil court documents, 70 or more young athletes were allegedly sexually abused under the guise of medical treatment” during that time. However, an attorney for survivors said Nassar molested at least 120 more women and children.  

Nassar’s reign of sexual abuse wasn’t stopped until the allegations were publicly exposed in September 2016 by an IndyStar investigation. He is now serving a more than 100-year sentence. 

“It’s obvious that the FBI failed survivors in all of this,” said Nassar survivor Grace French, the founder and president of The Army of Survivors. “They put financial gain and the possibility of an opportunity for future employment in front of athletes, of children, of survivors — and that’s incredibly disappointing to me,”

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