Biles among victims seeking $1bn from FBI in pedophile doctor case
US gymnastics icon Simone Biles is among the sexual assault victims seeking compensation of more than $1 billion from the FBI for its failure to stop pedophile former team doctor Larry Nassar, lawyers have said.
Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison in 2018 after hundreds of women and girls accused the former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University doctor of sexually abusing them in a period spanning two decades.
The FBI was accused of failing to act against Nassar’s crimes after agents were told that he was molesting young athletes.
Around 90 individuals have filed a claim against the organization, according to Californian law firm Manly, Stewart & Finaldi, including four-time Olympic champion Biles and fellow gold medalists Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney.
“It is time for the FBI to be held accountable,” said former national champion gymnast Maggie Nichols, as quoted by the AP.
Former University of Michigan gymnast Samantha Roy echoed those feelings, saying: “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.”
The FBI has six months to respond to the tort claims.
The US Justice Department said last month that it would not pursue criminal charges against former FBI agents who were accused of not opening an investigation into Nassar quickly enough.
Local FBI agents were reportedly told by USA Gymnastics in 2015 that three gymnasts had complained that they were assaulted by Nassar, although the FBI did not open a formal investigation or inform federal or state authorities in Michigan.
FBI agents in Los Angeles initiated a sexual tourism investigation against Nassar in 2016 and interviewed several victims but also didn’t inform Michigan authorities, according to the inspector general of the US Justice Department.
The disgraced doctor, now aged 58, wasn’t arrested until the fall of 2016 as part of an investigation by Michigan State University police.
Nassar was sentenced to between 40 and 175 years in prison by a Michigan court in 2018, with the judge telling the pedophile doctor she had “just signed your death warrant.”
Nassar had already pleaded guilty to 10 counts of first-degree criminal sexual misconduct and was separately handed a 60-year sentence in federal prison for child pornography crimes.
Speaking at a Congressional hearing last year, FBI Director Christopher Wray said he was “especially sorry that there were people at the FBI who had their own chance to stop this monster back in 2015 and failed,” adding it was “inexcusable.”
Nassar victim Maroney said at the same Senate hearing that the FBI had grossly mishandled the investigation and made “entirely false claims” related to her accusation.
“They chose to fabricate. They chose to lie about what I said and protect a serial child molester rather than protect not only me, but countless others,” claimed the former gymnast.
A settlement of $380 million has already been agreed by USA Gymnastics, the US Olympic & Paralympic Committee, and their insurers with more than 500 female gymnasts.
Michigan State, which was also accused of missing opportunities to stop Nassar, agreed to pay $500 million to more than 300 women and girls.