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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

DOJ to Pay $100 Million to Gymnasts Over FBI Failures

  • The Justice Department is reportedly paying out claims from survivors after the FBI erred in the Larry Nassar investigation.
  • The total victim compensation will nearly reach $1 billion.
Matthew Dae Smith, Lansing State Journal via USA TODAY Network

The U.S. national and collegiate gymnasts who brought claims against former doctor Larry Nassar are nearing the end of their legal battles with the institutions that enabled Nassar’s years of abuse.

As first reported by the Wall Street Journal, the Department of Justice has agreed to a $100 million settlement that will be split among about 100 gymnasts. The payment stems from years-old DOJ findings that FBI investigators failed to take appropriate action after hearing of the abuse, which allowed Nassar to continue working with gymnasts for more than a year.

The recent deal hasn’t yet been finalized, multiple outlets report, but the official announcement could be made in the coming weeks, according to the New York Times.

This resolves the final legal claim brought by the gymnasts, according to the WSJ, bringing the total amount of settlements to nearly $1 billion. Michigan State, where Nassar was employed in addition to the U.S. national team, reached a $500 million settlement with gymnasts in 2018. Three years later, USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee agreed to a $380 million settlement with survivors.

The DOJ is settling $1 billion in administrative tort claims made against the FBI in 2022 by gymnasts including Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney, and Maggie Nichols, as well as dozens of athletes who were treated in the year after the FBI knew about the abuse.

The Justice Department released a review in 2021 of the FBI’s response to the initial reports. The DOJ found agents in Indianapolis, the city where USA Gymnastics is headquartered and alerted federal authorities, “violated numerous FBI policies,” per a press release. Among the findings included agents not documenting the initial meeting, evidence, and an interview with a gymnast, failing to move the case to the FBI’s Lansing, Mich. resident agency, and making false statements to the DOJ’s Office of the Inspector General.

Still, the DOJ did not criminally charge the two agents it admitted had failed to properly handle the claims against Nassar.

Nassar, 60, is currently serving a 60-year sentence in a federal penitentiary in Florida on child pornography charges (He is also sentenced to at least 40 and up to 175 years in Michigan on sexual assault charges). In July, he was stabbed by another inmate after making a remark while watching Wimbledon women’s tennis, saying he wanted to see girls competing in the competition, according to the Associated Press. Nassar sustained a collapsed lung but survived the incident.

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