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Giving Nassar a pass

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Count the FBI among the numerous public authorities who exposed countless more young women and girls to a serial rapist because they chose to bury credible charges rather than seriously investigating them:

FBI agents disregarded allegations by Olympic gymnasts that they were sexually assaulted by former national team doctor Larry Nassar and later made false statements to cover their mistakes, Justice Department investigators said Wednesday in a long-awaited report on the bureau’s handling of one of the biggest abuse cases in U.S. sports history.

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After the meeting, Indianapolis agents spoke with only one gymnast: McKayla Maroney, who had described her abuse to a private investigator retained by USA Gymnastics. An agent conducted that interview over the telephone. The report says that the interview was not properly documented until February 2017, which is around the time The Wall Street Journal first documented the delays in the investigation. Agents did not follow up with other gymnasts.

And, the report says, the Indianapolis agents failed to transfer the Nassar allegations to the FBI’s resident agency in Lansing, Mich.—under the Detroit field office—the most likely place to investigate potential federal crimes that had been committed in the area, even after they had been advised by an Assistant U.S. Attorney to do so and they told USA Gymnastics that they had.

Nor did the FBI contact state or local enforcement or take any other action to mitigate the risk to gymnasts that Nassar continued to treat. 

The report also details multiple false statements to internal FBI investigators by Indianapolis agents, including the special agent in charge of the office, Jay Abbott, and a supervisory special agent who is not named, dating to the earliest days of the gymnasts’ complaints. The supervisory special agent’s February 2017 write-up of his telephone interview with Maroney contained materially false statements and omissions, and the agent also made materially false statements when questioned later about the interview. 

Abbott, too, “made materially false statements during his OIG interviews to minimize errors made by the Indianapolis Field Office in connection with the handling of the Nassar allegations,” according to the inspector general’s report.

He also showed “extremely poor judgment and violated FBI policy” by communicating with Steve Penny, the then-head of USA Gymnastics, about a potential vacancy at the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee while the two continued to discuss the Nassar allegations. Abbott then applied for the job, and later twice told internal investigators he had not.

Victim: “the doctor for USA Gymnastics is a serial rapist.”

FBI: “I mean, sexual assault, who gives a shit, but is there some way I can parlay this into a lucrative no-work job with the corrupt organization?”

Maybe if Nassar had been accused of violating MSU’s record retention protocols the FBI would have taken this seriously.

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