U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland regarding the decision by the Department of Justice (DOJ) not to prosecute the FBI Special Agents involved in the Larry Nassar investigation. This follows the DOJ Office of Inspector General report that these agents were found to be derelict in their duty by failing to investigate the sexual abuse claims of the Olympic athletes.
“This decision is egregious and severely calls into question the Department’s judgment. I am particularly concerned this lack of accountability will further erode confidence in law enforcement among victims of sexual abuse, making it less likely abuse will be reported in the future,” Wicker wrote. “The right of Olympic athletes to compete and train in an environment free from abuse of any kind is of the utmost importance. In this instance, young women, mostly minors, were sexually abused by an individual entrusted with their care and well-being.”
It was announced today that more than 90 athletes who were abused by the former USA Gymnastics doctor will file lawsuits against the FBI for the mishandling of their cases, collectively seeking over $1 billion. Claimants include Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Maggie Nichols, and Aly Raisman, who were witnesses at the Senate Judiciary Hearing in 2021, “Dereliction of Duty”.
Read the letter here or below.
Dear Attorney General Garland:
Since 2015, the American people have been appalled by the firsthand accounts of reprehensible acts committed by Larry Nassar against U.S. Olympic athletes, many of whom were minors. However, it has come to light only more recently that Special Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) failed to investigate these matters. In July 2021, the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General (DOJ OIG) released a report finding that these Special Agents had in fact lied under oath and falsified evidence to hide their own investigative failures. Despite criminal findings from an independent investigative body, the Department of Justice (the Department) confirmed last month that it will not bring charges against the offending agents. This decision is egregious and severely calls into question the Department’s judgment. I am particularly concerned this lack of accountability will further erode confidence in law enforcement among victims of sexual abuse, making it less likely abuse will be reported in the future. At minimum, the Department should explain its rationale and brief the Committee regarding Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco’s review of the Department’s decisions not to bring charges.
The Department’s lack of candor and action on behalf of the victims is inexcusable. For several years now, the Senate, through multiple committees, continues to investigate sexual abuse within the Olympic community. Senators have been briefed by both DOJ OIG and SafeSport and have held hearings with Olympic athletes who are calling for accountability. Last year, Aly Raisman voiced the frustration of many survivors when she rebuked the Department’s leadership for refusing to participate in the Judiciary Committee’s hearing on the failures of the Nassar investigation.
During the Judiciary Committee’s Hearing on Renewing and Strengthening the Violence Against Women Act, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco stated the Department would review its decision not to bring charges against the Special Agents. She told the Judiciary Committee that “new information” had since come to light that necessitated additional time for review. Given the overwhelming amount of incriminating evidence against these Special Agents, it is deeply disturbing that the Department is choosing not to take steps to hold its own accountable, especially following the string of well-documented “inexcusable, unacceptable failures,” which the Department itself has confirmed. A period of 17 months elapsed from the time the FBI was first informed of Nassar’s abuses to his eventual arrest. This period allowed Nassar to continue abusing approximately 70 young athletes under the guise of medical treatment while Special Agents were derelict in their duties and failed to investigate these claims properly.
The right of Olympic athletes to compete and train in an environment free from abuse of any kind is of the utmost importance. In this instance, young women, mostly minors, were sexually abused by an individual entrusted with their care and well-being. When these abhorrent abuses were reported to SafeSport, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, and USA Gymnastics, they were dismissed. The athletes then took their stories to the FBI, which minimized the abuses and took no action. Nassar was eventually convicted for his crimes in spite of the FBI’s failures. Yet the system that allowed him to perpetuate his abuses remains largely unchanged, and the Special Agents who lied to cover up their inactions have not received any judicial scrutiny.
For these reasons, I request the Department provide a briefing to the Commerce Committee on the review process confirming its decisions not to bring charges, including the “new information” that necessitated the review. In addition, we ask that the Department respond to the below questions by June 22, 2022.
1. DOJ OIG estimates that approximately 70 individuals were abused by Nassar after USA Gymnastics reported the Nassar allegations to the Indianapolis Field Office in July 2015.
a. Does the Department believe this is an accurate number? If not, why not?
b. What is the exact number of individuals that Nassar victimized after the FBI first learned of the allegations?
c. How many of those individuals were victims of continued abuse that began before the FBI was notified?
d. How many victims had their abuse begin after the FBI had been notified?
2. Please explain how an FBI investigation into the abuses perpetrated by Nassar in July of 2015 would not have eliminated, or at least decreased, the statistics provided in the answer to the above question.
3. For each of the last three years, how many times has the Department brought charges against the following categories of people for both lying under oath to federal law enforcement or manufacturing evidence and providing it to federal law enforcement?
a. Non-government employees
b. All federal law enforcement officials
c. FBI employees
Thank you in advance for your response to this important matter.