As we reported previously, Simone Biles is among dozens of gymnasts who announced Wednesday they would be asserting claims against the FBI over its bungled handling of the Larry Nassar case.
That news comes just weeks after the DOJ announced it would not be pursuing criminal charges against the former FBI agents who neglected to open an investigation into Nassar even though they learned in 2015 that several gymnasts claimed to have been sexually assaulted by their team doctor.
Lawyers for the victims expressed dismay at that decision:
John Manly said it’s “incomprehensible” that agents and others will not be prosecuted.
“The FBI agents who knew of Nassar’s abuse, did nothing, and then lied about their inaction in violation of their sworn duty and the law have been given a pass,” Manly said.
Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss), who is the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, issued a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland on Wednesday demanding answers over the DOJ’s decision. Per the Committee’s press release:
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland regarding the decision by the Department of Justice (DOJ) not to prosecute the FBI Special Agents involved in the Larry Nassar investigation. This follows the DOJ Office of Inspector General report that these agents were found to be derelict in their duty by failing to investigate the sexual abuse claims of the Olympic athletes.
“This decision is egregious and severely calls into question the Department’s judgment. I am particularly concerned this lack of accountability will further erode confidence in law enforcement among victims of sexual abuse, making it less likely abuse will be reported in the future,” Wicker wrote. “The right of Olympic athletes to compete and train in an environment free from abuse of any kind is of the utmost importance. In this instance, young women, mostly minors, were sexually abused by an individual entrusted with their care and well-being.”
The full text of the letter can be found here, but it reads, in pertinent part:
The Department’s lack of candor and action on behalf of the victims is inexcusable. For several years now, the Senate, through multiple committees, continues to investigate sexual abuse within the Olympic community. Senators have been briefed by both DOJ OIG and SafeSport and have held hearings with Olympic athletes who are calling for accountability. Last year, Aly Raisman voiced the frustration of many survivors when she rebuked the Department’s leadership for refusing to participate in the Judiciary Committee’s hearing on the failures of the Nassar investigation.
During the Judiciary Committee’s Hearing on Renewing and Strengthening the Violence Against Women Act, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco stated the Department would review its decision not to bring charges against the Special Agents. She told the Judiciary Committee that “new information” had since come to light that necessitated additional time for review. Given the overwhelming amount of incriminating evidence against these Special Agents, it is deeply disturbing that the Department is choosing not to take steps to hold its own accountable, especially following the string of well-documented “inexcusable, unacceptable failures,” which the Department itself has confirmed. A period of 17 months elapsed from the time the FBI was first informed of Nassar’s abuses to his eventual arrest. This period allowed Nassar to continue abusing approximately 70 young athletes under the guise of medical treatment while Special Agents were derelict in their duties and failed to investigate these claims properly.
The letter goes on to set forth several questions, including the number of individuals the DOJ believes were abused by Nassar after the allegations were reported to the Indianapolis Field Office, whether an investigation would have, at minimum, decreased the number of individuals abused following the initial reports, and how often the Department has brought charges for lying to the FBI against non-government employees, federal law enforcement officials, and FBI employees in each of the last three years.
Senator Wicker also shared his dismay with the decision on Twitter:
Whether and to what extent Senator Wicker receives a response to his letter and answers to his questions remains to be seen.