BY: MORGAN FRAZIER
How much is a little girl worth? According to the FBI, absolutely nothing.
After receiving a credible compliant from USA Gymnastics about Larry Nassar sexually assaulting gymnasts, the FBI’s Indianapolis field office effectively did nothing and allowed Nassar to continue assaulting girls for nearly a year. According to a scathing report released in July by the Department of Justice, the FBI did not undertake any investigative activity for 5 weeks after meeting with USAG. Even then, the FBI only interviewed 1 victim. Following that interview, the FBI conducted “no investigative activity in the matter for more than 8 months,” they did not advise authorities about the allegations, nor did they take any action to mitigate the risk to gymnasts that Nassar continued to “treat.” During that period, it is alleged that Nassar assaulted at least 70 girls. This terror could have been avoided if the FBI simply did its job.
This past Wednesday, four of America’s most decorated gymnasts delivered powerful testimonies at a Senate hearing detailing the abuse they suffered from Nassar. One of the more gut-wrenching claims came from 2012 Olympic gold-medalist McKayla Maroney. She stated: “After telling my entire story of abuse to the FBI in the summer of 2015, not only did the FBI not report my abuse, but when they eventually documented the report 17 months later, they made entirely false claims about what I said." Furthermore, she alleged that the FBI, USAG, and the U.S. Olympic Committee of working together to conceal the allegations against Nassar.
The DOJ concluded that the FBI “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 to them, and violated multiple FBI policies.” At the Senate hearing, all FBI Director Christopher Wray could do was apologize to the survivors for the FBI’s failure to stop the “monster” back in 2015 when the FBI had the chance.
For his part, Wray has implemented new training protocols and procedures which have been impactful. However, apologies and new reforms are not enough. The truth of the matter is that only a few individuals besides Nassar have been held accountable for their actions – and none of those individuals are the FBI special agents who botched the investigation that allowed Nassar to continue to sexually assault girls.
Enough is enough. There needs to be more investigation into how the Nassar case was mishandled, as well as answers as to why the DOJ refused to prosecute Jay Abbott and Michael Langeman – the FBI agents who (mis)handled the case. Langeman was a supervisory special agent in the FBI’s Indianapolis field office when he interviewed Maroney in 2015 about her allegations of abuse by Nassar. The DOJ report said that he and Abbott lied to investigators from the inspector general’s office about their actions and that they never officially opened an investigation. Langeman was recently fired by the FBI, and Abbott retied several years ago.
As 8x NCAA Champion Maggie Nichols said, the survivors do have a right to know why their well-being was placed into jeopardy by these agents who chose not to do their jobs. Hopefully more questions will be answered when Attorney General Merrick Garland and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco appear before the Judiciary Committee in October.