Warning, the following article contains graphic discussions of sexual assault.
The U.S. Justice Department announced Thursday it will not bring federal criminal charges against the two former FBI agents who disregarded a group of gymnasts' accusations against Larry Nassar in 2015.
Special agents Jay Abbott and Michael Langeman were heavily criticized in a DOJ report following an investigation into the FBI's mishandling of the Nassar allegations. Abbott has since retired, while Langeman was fired last year.
Abbott and Langeman were found to have spoken with only one gymnast, McKayla Maroney, while failing to properly document the interview until 2017, failing to transfer the case to the Lansing office where Nassar was based and failing to inform any state or local authorities of the claims against Nassar, who has since been convicted and hit with an effective life sentence.
A group of 13 women who were sexually assaulted by Nassar after he was reported to the FBI have since sued the agency.
The agents were also found to have made false claims in multiple statements to federal investigators to hide their mistakes.
Testifying before Congress, Maroney described how the agents handled her phone interview while calling for them to be held responsible, via ABC News:
I told the FBI about Tokyo, the day he gave me a sleeping pill for the plane ride to then work on me later that night. That evening, I was naked, completely alone, with him on top of me molesting me for hours. I told them I thought I was going to die that night because there was no way that he would let me go. But he did. I told them I walked the halls of Tokyo hotel at 2 a.m., at only 15 years old.
I began crying at the memory over the phone, and there was just dead silence. I was so shocked at the agent's silence and disregard for my trauma.
After that minute of silence he asked, "Is that all?"
Angie Povilaitis, who prosecuted Nassar as an assistant attorney general of Michigan, also criticized the agents, whom she described as unhelpful and evasive as public scrutiny grew over the case.
When I first got the case in Oct. 2016, I/we had many meetings with local FBI/Fed officials. I/we repeatedly asked what had been done between the July 2015 report to FBI & the Indy Star reporting in August 2016.
Our questions were never answered & were always evaded.
— Angie Povilaitis (@AngiePovilaitis) September 15, 2021
FBI director Christopher Wray has since apologized to the gymnasts for his agency's mishandling of the case.
Justice Department's full statement on not charging FBI agents for Larry Nassar inaction
The Justice Department announced today that after careful re-review of evidence gathered in the investigation of two former FBI special agents in connection with their involvement in the FBI’s investigation of Lawrence G. Nassar, it is adhering to its prior decision not to bring federal criminal charges.
This decision comes after multiple reviews and analyses of evidence gathered in the investigation of the former agents, and reflects the recommendation of experienced prosecutors. This does not in any way reflect a view that the investigation of Nassar was handled as it should have been, nor in any way reflect approval or disregard of the conduct of the former agents.
While the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General has outlined serious concerns about the former agents’ conduct during the Nassar investigation, and also described how evidence shows that during interviews in the years after the events in question both former agents appear to have provided inaccurate or incomplete information to investigators, the Principles of Federal Prosecution require more to bring a federal criminal case.
We will continue to learn from what occurred in this matter, and undertake efforts to keep victims at the center of our work and to ensure that they are heard, respected, and treated fairly throughout the process, as they deserve. To that end, the department has continued to assess gaps in the law to protect the most vulnerable among us from exploitation. Addressing those gaps could help prevent events like this from taking place in the future and hold perpetrators accountable. We stand ready to collaborate with Congress to do so.
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