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Senators ask Justice Department to expand review of FBI’s mishandling of Nassar case

Two U.S. senators called on the Department of Justice Tuesday to conduct a comprehensive review of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s mishandling of the Larry Nassar sexual abuse case, including allegations that then U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun lied to Congress, and former USA Gymnastics CEO Steve Penny instructed employees to remove and/or destroy records from the Karolyi Ranch in Texas related to Nassar’s treatment of young gymnasts.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) and Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland requested that a current DOJ review of its decision not to criminally charge FBI agents for making false statements during a DOJ Office of the Inspector General investigation of the Nassar case be expanded “to review all information in its possession related to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) mishandling of its inquiry into” Nassar, the former U.S. Olympic and women’s national team physician.

A nearly three-year OIG investigation into the FBI’s handling of the Nassar case found that officials in the FBI’s Indianapolis office failed to respond to allegations by U.S. Olympic champions and national team members that they had been sexually abused by Nassar “with the urgency that the allegations required,” according to an OIG report released last July.

The OIG concluded that W. Jay Abbott, the Indianapolis special agent in charge, and an Indianapolis Field Office Supervisory Special Agent (Indianapolis SSA) made false statements. A 30-year FBI veteran, Abbott retired from the bureau in January 2018.

Specifically, Abbott lied to OIG investigators about applying for a top level security position with the USOC while consulting with Penny about the Nassar case. The report also found that FBI agents lied to investigators to cover up errors made in the bureau’s investigation of Nassar.

The OIG report also revealed that another FBI agent, Michael Langeman, did not write a formal report of his 2015 interview with Olympic champion McKayla Maroney, who was repeatedly assaulted by Nassar, until nearly a year and a half later. Maroney and her attorney, John Manly, said that they disputed the accuracy and veracity of the report. Langeman was fired from the bureau in September, according to FBI director Christopher Wray.

Wray told a Senate committee in October that DOJ officials twice, once in 2020 and again in 2021, declined to indict Abbott and Langeman.

But Deputy AG Lisa O. Monaco told the Senate Judiciary Committee in October that the DOJ was conducting a criminal review of the FBI’s failure to properly investigate multiple sexual abuse allegations against Nassar. The review included “new information that has come to light,” according to Monaco, who declined to elaborate on what new information the DOJ had obtained.

“The Department’s response to the OIG report cannot end there,” Blumenthal and Moran wrote in their letter to Garland, referring to the DOJ criminal review. “The fact that this review is based, at least in part, on new information that has come to light—more than six years after the Nassar allegations were first reported to the FBI—suggests that there might be more that the FBI and the Department missed.”

“The continued failure by the Department of Justice to criminally charge the FBI agents, USAGymnastics and USOPC officials who conspired to cover up the largest sex abuse scandal in thehistory of sport is incomprehensible,” said John Manly, an Orange County attorney who represents around 100 Nassar survivors. “On September 13, 2021, gymnasts Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney, and Maggie Nichols shared heart wrenching testimony with the Judiciary committee, pleaded for justice and were promised action by Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco. More than six months later there has been no action. We fully support the effortsof Senators Blumenthal and Moran to uphold the rule of law and demand accountability by the Department of Justice.”

Blumenthal and Moran referred Blackmun to the DOJ and FBI in December 2018 for criminal investigation for allegedly making false statements and misleading Congress.

“To date, we do not know what, if anything, the Department did with this referral,” Blumenthal and Moran wrote to Garland.

Penny allegedly instructed USA Gymnastics employees “to immediately locate, pack up and remove any and all documents at the Karolyi Ranch related to Nassar or medical care” when state law enforcement officers arrived unannounced at the Karolyi Ranch, the U.S. Olympic and USA Gymnastics training site in remote Central Texas, in November 2016.

USA Gymnastics national teams manager Amy White, on the orders of Penny, removed several boxes of medical records and other documents relevant to the Nassar investigation from the Karolyi Ranch in November 2016, the Southern California News Group reported in 2018, citing court documents.

Penny was indicted in by a Walker County, Texas grand jury in 2018 for tampering with evidence.

“But it is not clear whether the Department has ever investigated these events,” Blumenthal and Moran said.

“Accordingly,” the senators continued, “we write to urge the Department to conduct a comprehensive review of all information in its possession to determine whether any additional investigations should be opened or widened, and if other individuals and institutions who enabled the cover up of this egregious abuse should be charged and held accountable.

“Last September, four brave women—four survivors out of the hundreds of athletes who were failed by organizations and institutions that were supposed to protect them—shared their stories with the Senate Judiciary Committee and the world. They demanded accountability,” Blumenthal and Moran said, referring to Olympic gold medalists Biles, Maroney and Raisman, and World champion Nichols. “We agree, and that starts with a new review of all of the information in the Department’s possession.”

Source: Orange County Register

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