Larry Nassar victims seek $1bn

Olympic gold-medalist Simone Biles is leading a group of women molested by Larry Nassar seeking $1bn in retribution from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

“It is time for the FBI to be held accountable,” said Maggie Nichols, a former national-champion gymnast at Oklahoma.

The group, consisting of dozens of women and former Team USA members, is targeting the FBI for their knowledge of Nassar’s crimes and failure to intervene. The FBI knew as early as 2015 that Nassar was sexually assaulting the young gymnasts but did not step in for over a year, allowing him to continue his heinous acts.

History of criminal activity

The government has six months to respond to torts, or legal filings in which the plaintiff has suffered loss or harm; lawsuits could then follow, depending on the response.

Nassar, 58, was sentenced to 60 years behind bars on child pornography charges in December 2017 and was then handed up to 175 years in January 2018 for seven counts of criminal sexual misconduct. 

Biles is joined by fellow gold medalists Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney, according to Manly, Stewart & Finaldi, a California law firm, in an assembly of roughly 90 women seeking restitution from the FBI. 

“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,” said former University of Michigan gymnast Samantha Roy.

USA Gymnastics told the FBI in 2015 that three gymnasts had been victimized by Nassar, then a Michigan State University and Team USA doctor. The Bureau, however, did not launch an investigation and did not inform federal or state authorities in Michigan, per the Justice Department’s inspector general.

FBI agents in Los Angeles initiated a sexual tourism investigation against Nassar in 2016, interviewing several victims in the process, but also did not inform Michigan authorities.

Nassar was finally arrested in 2016 by Michigan State police following an internal probe. The Michigan attorney general’s office ultimately levied sexual assault charges against the doctor, and federal prosecutors in Grand Rapids, Michigan, slapped him with a child pornography case.

Addressing the system

The FBI passed up the chance to comment after 13 claims were submitted in April, falling back on what Director Christopher Wray said to Congress in 2021. 

“I’m especially sorry that there were people at the FBI who had their own chance to stop this monster back in 2015 and failed,” Wray said to survivors during a Senate hearing. “And that’s inexcusable.”

At the same meeting, Biles, the consensus greatest gymnast ever, certainly the best modern-era gymnast, said that the “entire system” empowered Nassar’s abuse. 

The Justice Department said in May that it would not pursue legal action against FBI agents who provided inconclusive or untruthful answers during the inspector general’s investigation.

Michigan State, which was also publicly condemned for failing to act against sexual misconduct, agreed to pay $500m to families of more than 300 victims in 2018. USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee agreed on a $380m settlement in 2021.