Olympic gold-winner Simone Biles and dozens of other gymnasts, including Olympic gold medalists Aly Raisman, and McKayla Maroney, who claim they were sexually assaulted by the sports doctor Larry Nassar— who was affiliated with Michigan State University and who was an Olympics team physician—are seeking more than $1 billion from the FBI for failing to stop the sports doctor when the agency was first informed about allegations against him,” the Associated Press reports.
According to reports, the FBI knew that Nassar was accused of assaulting gymnasts in 2015, but they failed to act, allowing him to continue his predatory behavior toward young women and girls for more than a year. After pleading guilty to charges in 2017, Nassar is currently serving decades in prison.
“It is time for the FBI to be held accountable,” said Maggie Nichols, a former national champion gymnast.
“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,” University of Michigan gymnast Samantha Roy added.
Former U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said that “it’s practically a certainty” that the government will settle the claims levied by Nassar’s victims.
“When FBI Director Wray admitted the FBI completely failed in their duties to protect these survivors, he essentially closed the door to a court fight,” Schneider said. “A settlement makes legal sense, but it also makes good moral sense.”
Paul Figley, a professor at American University’s law school and a former Justice Department litigator, argues that the government would have a strong defense against the accusations of neglect.
“The Tort Claims Act has worked very well for what it was intended to do: Help people hurt by run-of-the-mill accidents” involving federal employees, Figley said. “The bad act here is what the doctor did.”
Previously, Michigan State University, which was also accused of failing to stop Nassar, agreed to pay $500 million to over 300 women and girls who were assaulted by him. Also, USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee made a $380 million settlement.
The government agency has six months to respond to claims that were filed Wednesday under federal law.