Justice Dept. to Weigh Prosecuting F.B.I. Agents in Nassar Case

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The department said it is reviewing its preliminary decision not to seek charges against the agents that Lawrence G. Failed to pursue sexual abuse allegations against Nassar.

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The Justice Department is reviewing its decision not to prosecute FBI agents who in 2015 failed to pursue sexual abuse charges against former United States Gymnastics physician Lawrence G. Was convicted on exploitation and federal child pornography. allegations, a top official of the department said on Tuesday.

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The unusual review comes months after the Justice Department’s watchdog released a scathing report that sharply criticized how the FBI handled the case, which first came to its attention when USA Gymnastics approached the Bureau’s Indianapolis Field in July 2015. Reported allegations of sexual abuse to the office.

Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz found that senior FBI officials failed to inform state or local officials or take steps to downplay the threat posed by Mr. Mr. Horowitz’s report found that the special agent in charge of the field office, W.J. Abbott, lied to the Inspector General’s investigators in order to hide his personal struggles in the case and minimize errors made by the FBI.

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But the Justice Department ultimately decided not to prosecute Mr Abbott, who retired in January 2018. Another agent in the same office, Michael Langman, was fired for handling the case.

Victims and their families, along with members of Congress, have sharply criticized the Justice Department’s decision not to investigate the men further or explore allegations of false statements against them.

Deputy Attorney General Lisa O’Monaco told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday that Kenneth Polite, the head of the Justice Department’s criminal department, “is currently reviewing the case, including new information that has come to light.”

Such a review does not mean that agents will face charges, and it was unclear what information was there.

But publicly disclosing that the department was reviewing its decision not to prosecute was unusual and how seriously the FBI thwarted the Nassar investigation, one of the largest child sex abuse cases in US history. This approval comes even as the bureau is working to restore public confidence in the aftermath of the Trump administration turmoil.

The review will also investigate the FBI’s wider handling of sexual assault cases.

“I want survivors to understand how seriously we take this issue and believe it deserves a thorough and thorough review,” Ms Monaco urged Congress to reauthorize and strengthen the Women’s Act. Said in a hearing to urge.

She said the review was being done with a “sense of urgency and seriousness”.

Ms Monaco announced the review’s existence three weeks after four-star gymnasts – Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Mackyla Maroney and Maggie Nichols – described the abuse she had faced with the same Senate committee.

“I blame Larry Nassar, and I also blame an entire system that enabled and criminalized his abuse,” Ms Biles testified.

During a three-hour interview with the FBI in 2015, Ms Maroney asked an agent to find details of the abuse she suffered during the 2012 Olympics in London. She told the senators that the agent responded to her account by saying, “Is that all?”

“Not only did the FBI not report my abuse, but when they finally documented my report 17 months later, they made completely false claims about what I said,” Ms Maroney testified. “He chose to lie about what I said and defend a serial child molester.”

Failure to act on information obtained by the FBI allowed Nassar to attack several additional girls before being arrested by state law enforcement officers. Mr Nassar has been accused of sexual abuse by more than 300 girls and women, including several members of the 2012 and 2016 US Olympic women’s gymnastics teams.

He is serving a life sentence in prison for those years of molesting and misbehaving.

Ms Monaco apologized to Mr Nassar’s victims. “I am deeply sorry that the victims in this case did not receive the response or protection they deserved,” she said.

His statement echoes statements made by FBI Director, Christopher A. Ray, when he appeared with gymnasts at a Senate hearing last month.

“I am especially sorry that there were people in the FBI who had their chance to stop this monster in 2015 and failed, and that is unforgivable,” Mr. Ray said at the hearing. “We are doing everything in our power to make sure this never happens again.”

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