AP

Simone Biles, other women seek $1B-plus from FBI over Nassar

Jun 8, 2022, 4:04 AM | Updated: Jun 9, 2022, 6:59 am

FILE - United States gymnasts from left, Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Maggie Nich...

FILE - United States gymnasts from left, Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Maggie Nichols, arrive to testify during a Senate Judiciary hearing about the Inspector General's report on the FBI's handling of the Larry Nassar investigation on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Washington. Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles and dozens of other women who say they were sexually assaulted by Larry Nassar are seeking more than $1 billion from the FBI for failing to stop the now convicted sports doctor when the agency first received allegations against him, lawyers said Wednesday, June 8, 2022. (Saul Loeb/Pool via AP, File)

(Saul Loeb/Pool via AP, File)

DETROIT (AP) — Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles and dozens of other women who say they were sexually assaulted by Larry Nassar are seeking more than $1 billion from the FBI for failing to stop the sports doctor when the agency first received allegations against him, lawyers said Wednesday.

There’s no dispute that FBI agents in 2015 knew that Nassar was accused of assaulting gymnasts, but they failed to act, leaving him free to continue to target young women and girls for more than a year. He pleaded guilty in 2017 and is serving decades in prison.

“It is time for the FBI to be held accountable,” said Maggie Nichols, a national champion gymnast at Oklahoma in 2017-19.

Under federal law, a government agency has six months to respond to the tort claims filed Wednesday. Lawsuits could follow, depending on the FBI’s response.

The approximately 90 claimants include Biles, Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney, all Olympic gold medalists, according to Manly, Stewart & Finaldi, a California law firm. Separately, 13 claims were filed by others in April.

“If the FBI had simply done its job, Nassar would have been stopped before he ever had the chance to abuse hundreds of girls, including me,” said former University of Michigan gymnast Samantha Roy.

Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics told local agents in 2015 that three gymnasts said they were assaulted by Nassar, a team doctor. But the FBI did not open a formal investigation or inform federal or state authorities in Michigan, according to the Justice Department’s inspector general, an internal watchdog.

Los Angeles agents in 2016 began a sexual tourism investigation against Nassar and interviewed several victims but also didn’t alert Michigan authorities, the inspector general said.

Nassar wasn’t arrested until the fall of 2016 during an investigation by police at Michigan State University, where he was a doctor.

The Michigan attorney general’s office ultimately handled the assault charges against Nassar, while federal prosecutors in Grand Rapids, Michigan, filed a child pornography case.

The FBI declined to comment Wednesday on the former gymnasts’ financial claims, referring instead to remarks last year by FBI Director Christopher Wray, who acknowledged major mistakes.

“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. And that’s inexcusable,” Wray told victims at a Senate hearing.

At that same hearing, Biles, widely considered to be the greatest gymnast of all time, said an “entire system” enabled the abuse. Maroney recalled “dead silence” when she talked to FBI agents about Nassar.

The Justice Department in May said that it would not pursue criminal charges against former agents who were accused of giving inaccurate or incomplete responses during the inspector general’s investigation.

Failures by federal law enforcers have led to major settlements, including $127.5 million for families of those killed or injured in 2018 at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The FBI received a tip about five weeks before 17 people were killed, but the tip was never forwarded to the South Florida office.

Matthew Schneider, a former U.S. attorney in Detroit, believes “it’s practically a certainty” that the government will settle the claims by Nassar victims.

“When FBI Director Wray admitted the FBI completely failed in their duties to protect these survivors, he essentially closed the door to a court fight,” Schneider said. “A settlement makes legal sense, but it also makes good moral sense.”

Paul Figley, a professor at American University’s law school and a former Justice Department litigator, said the government would have defenses.

“The Tort Claims Act has worked very well for what it was intended to do: Help people hurt by run-of-the-mill accidents” involving federal employees, Figley said. “The bad act here is what the doctor did.”

Michigan State University, which was also accused of missing chances over many years to stop Nassar, agreed to pay $500 million to more than 300 women and girls who were assaulted by him. USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee made a $380 million settlement.

___

For more stories on Larry Nassar and the fallout from his years of sexual abusing young women and girls: https://www.apnews.com/LarryNassar

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Near-total abortion ban in Arizona dates back to Civil War era...

Associated Press

Near-total abortion ban dates back to 1864, during the Civil War, before Arizona was a state

The near-total abortion ban resurrected last week by the Arizona Supreme Court dates to 1864, when settlers were encroaching on tribal lands.

38 minutes ago

Tracy Toulou...

Associated Press

How to tackle crime in Indian Country? Empower tribal justice, ex-Justice Department official says

A recently retired director of the Justice Dept. says the federal government hasn't given tribal justice systems equal recognition.

24 hours ago

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson...

Associated Press

House Speaker Mike Johnson says he will push for aid to Israel and Ukraine this week

House Speaker Mike Johnson said Sunday he will try to advance wartime aid for Israel this week, along with funding for Ukraine.

1 day ago

President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign rally Saturday, March 9, 2024, at Pullman Yards in Atlanta...

Associated Press

US shoots down ‘nearly all’ Iran-launched attack drones as Biden vows support for Israel’s defense

Joe Biden cut short a weekend stay at his beach house to meet with his national security team as Iran launched an attack against Israel.

2 days ago

Protesters in Phoenix shout as they join thousands marching around the Arizona state Capitol after ...

Associated Press

Abortion ruling supercharges Arizona to be an especially important swing state

A ruling this week instituting a near-total abortion ban supercharged Arizona's role, turning it into the most critical battleground.

3 days ago

Follow @ktar923...

Sponsored Content by Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

Sponsored Articles

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

Simone Biles, other women seek $1B-plus from FBI over Nassar