Rena Laverty/AFP/Getty Images
A report released Wednesday by the Justice Department’s inspector general found that the FBI made “numerous and fundamental” errors while investigating the “extraordinarily serious” allegations of sexual abuse made against Larry Nassar, the former national team doctor for USA Gymnastics.
In 2015, after USA Gymnastics conducted its own internal investigation into accusations of abuse, the organization’s then-president, Stephen Penny, went to the FBI field office in Indianapolis to report the allegations. The report found that the Indianapolis agents failed to respond to the accusations with “the utmost seriousness and urgency that they deserved and required,” and went months before launching an investigation.
Once the FBI probe did begin, agents made several missteps, including not interviewing gymnasts who wanted to meet, the report states. Later, the Indianapolis agents did not accept responsibility for the errors, and a supervisory special agent claimed that the allegations made against Nassar were “very vague” and Penny was “kind of a snake oil salesman kind of guy.” The FBI said in a statement the “actions and inactions of certain FBI employees described in the report are inexcusable and a discredit to this organization.”
Between the time the FBI was first told of the allegations and authorities in Michigan arrested Nassar on state charges, at least 40 girls and women say they were molested by Nassar. He was found guilty on federal child pornography and sexual abuse charges, and sentenced to decades in prison. Hundreds of girls and women have come forward to say Nassar abused them while he worked for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State.