July 14 (UPI) — FBI officials failed to properly document sexual assault accusations made against former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar and made false statements regarding the case, the Justice Department’s inspector general said in a report Wednesday.
The inspector general released the report from its 2018 investigation into the FBI’s handling of the Nassar case, finding that officials with the Indianapolis Field Office failed to respond to the allegations “with the utmost seriousness an urgency that they deserved and required” and made “numerous and fundamental errors” when they did respond.
The report stated that 70 or more athletes were sexually abused by Nassar between when USA Gymnastics first reported the allegations to the FBI and August 2016 when a separate complaint was filed with the police department at Michigan State University, where Nassar also worked.
Additionally, the Indianapolis Field Office interviewed only one of three athletes who they were told were available to meet with FBI investigators and did not transfer the matter to the FBI’s Lansing Residence Agency despite being advised to do so.
The field office also failed to notify state or local authorities of the sexual assault allegations despite questioning if there was federal jurisdiction to pursue them.
W. Jay Abbott, the special agent in charge of the Indianapolis Field Office, also lied to the inspector general’s office on multiple occasions in order “to minimize errors made by the Indianapolis Field Office in connection with the handling of the Nassar allegations,” the report stated.
Abbott also violated FBI policy by speaking with then-president and CEO of USA Gymnastics, Steve Penny, about potential job opportunities with the U.S. Olympic Committee while they discussed the Nassar allegations.
He later applied for a job on the committee and twice lied to the inspector general about his attempts to land the job.
In a statement responding to the report, the FBI said it has implemented the inspector general’s recommendations and taken further steps to ensure that “serious allegations, such as these, are promptly shared with our local law enforcement partners and within the FBI.”
“As the inspector general made clear in today’s report, this should not have happened. The FBI will never lose sight of the harm that Nassar’s abuse caused. The actions and inactions of certain FBI employees described in the report are inexcusable and a discredit to this organization,” the agency said.
Nassar, 57, is currently serving a 40- to 174-year state prison sentence after being convicted on all seven counts of criminal sexual conduct as 168 women and girls testified or delivered statements detailing Nassar’s sexual abuse over 20 years.