Justice Department reaches $139 million settlement over FBI failures in investigation of Nassar gymnastics abuse claims

The Justice Department has reached a $138.7 million settlement with more than 100 victims of disgraced former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar over the FBI’s initial failures in investigating the sexual assault case.

More than 150 women and girls, including Olympic athletes, have alleged that Nassar sexually abused them under the guise of performing medical treatments. The FBI failed to investigate their claims, the victims say.

Nassar, who was convicted of sexually abusing young athletes under the guise of medical treatment, was sentenced in a Michigan state court to up to 175 years in prison.

“For decades, Lawrence Nassar abused his position, betraying the trust of those under his care and medical supervision while skirting accountability,” Benjamin Mizer, the acting associate attorney general, said in a statement Tueday. “These allegations should have been taken seriously from the outset. While these settlements won’t undo the harm Nassar inflicted, our hope is that they will help give the victims of his crimes some of the critical support they need to continue healing.”

The Justice Department acknowledged its failures in a scathing inspector general’s report that found senior officials in the FBI Indianapolis field office failed to respond to the Nassar allegations, made numerous and fundamental errors when they did respond and violated multiple FBI policies when undertaking their investigative activity.

John Manly, an attorney for victims of Nassar, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Tuesday evening the settlement is a relief.

“It’s at some level feeling victorious but also at some level just profound sadness knowing that, had the FBI acted when this was reported … over 100 children would not have been molested by Larry Nassar,” Manly said.

“It brings the end to one of the darkest chapters – if not the darkest chapter – in American sports history,” the attorney added.

But Manly said there are still agents who mishandled the investigation and have not been held accountable, adding “that’s not justice.”

“So, (the settlement) is an imperfect result, but it’s one I’m very proud of, and I think our clients are proud of. And it was the result of a massive struggle.”

In 2021, victims of Nassar reached a $380 million settlement with USA Gymnastics, the US Olympic Committee and their insurers. In 2022, the DOJ offered to begin settlement discussions with the sexual assault survivors.

This story has been updated with additional details.

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