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larry nassar

Justice Department says FBI mishandled sexual abuse investigation of Michigan State University doctor

July 15, 2021
Inspector General says the FBI's Indianapolis office did not take seriously the allegations made against Larry Nassar, an MSU faculty member and a doctor for USA Gymnastics who assaulted more than 150 girls or young women.

FBI officials investigating allegations of sexual abuse by disgraced Michigan State University doctor Larry Nassar violated the agency's policies by making false statements and failing to properly document complaints by the accusers, the Justice Department's inspector general says.

CNN reports that the Office of the Inspector General found that senior officials in the FBI Indianapolis Field Office failed to respond to the Nassar allegations with the utmost seriousness and urgency that they deserved and required, made numerous and fundamental errors when they did respond, and violated multiple FBI policies when undertaking their investigative activity.

The bureau said in a statement that the "actions and inactions of certain FBI employees described in the report are inexcusable and a discredit to this organization." It says "those responsible for the misconduct and breach of trust no longer work FBI matters."

READ THE 119-PAGE INSPECTOR GENERAL'S REPORT

Nassar, 57, who served as a doctor for USA Gymnastics and was a faculty member at Michigan State's College of Osteopathic Medicine, is serving a 40-to-174-year prison sentence after 156 women and girls said he sexually abused them over the course of 20 years. He pleaded guilty in November 2017 to seven counts of criminal sexual conduct for using his profession as a cover to sexually abuse his patients.

Nassar also has pleaded guilty to federal child pornography charges and separate state criminal sexual conduct charges.

The Inspector General's report says Indianapolis Field Office Special Agent in Charge W. Jay Abbott and another unidentified supervisory special agent conducted a "limited follow-up" investigation of Nassar in 2015 that included "a handful of email exchanges" and five pages of handwritten notes. The officials also neglected to interview two of the three accusers who were available for interviews, the report says.

The report also said that the Indianapolis Field Office "did not advise state or local authorities about the allegations and did not take any action to mitigate the risk to gymnasts that Nassar continued to treat."

The unnamed agent was demoted and his status with the FBI is pending review by the FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility. Abbott retired in January 2018.

The Indianapolis officials did not take responsibility for its investigative failures, the report said, and provided incomplete and inaccurate information.

After Abbott retired he also provided inaccurate information to the media "to make it appear that the Indianapolis office had been diligent in its follow-up efforts and they did so, in part, by blaming others for their own failures," according to the report.

In a letter that's included in the report, Douglas Leff, the assistant director of the FBI's Inspection Division, said: "Simply put, the behavior described in the report is not representative of the FBI or of our tens of thousands of retirees and current employees. To the extent the review reveals additional misconduct by FBI employees, we will similarly act promptly as warranted."

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