Thirteen sexual assault survivors of Larry Nassar are requesting a total of $130 million from the FBI for its mishandling of his investigation. Their request comes a year after the Justice Department's inspector general found the FBI made "fundamental errors" by not taking swift enough action against Nassar, a delay that led to further abuse by the former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University sports doctor.
The survivors' attorneys filed federal tort claims on Wednesday but did not sue the FBI. The FBI now has six months to reply to the claims, and if the survivors deem the response insufficient their attorneys can file a lawsuit then.
"This was not a case involving fake 20 dollar bills or tax cheats,'' attorney Jamie White said, per ESPN. "These were allegations of a serial rapist who was known to the FBI as the Olympic U.S. doctor with unfettered access to young women.''
According to the inspector general's report, the FBI failed to open a formal investigation or inform any authorities after USA Gymnastics brought forward three women who claimed to have been assaulted by Nassar in 2015. In 2016, Los Angeles FBI agents started a sexual tourism investigation against Nassar but still didn't notify Michigan authorities.
Nassar wasn't arrested until November 2016, more than a year after the FBI first heard allegations of his abuse. White said Nassar assaulted over 100 women during the 15-month delay, one FBI director Christopher Wray said he is "deeply and profoundly" sorry for last year.
"No one should have been assaulted after the summer of 2015 because the FBI should have done its job," said Grace French, founder of the advocacy group The Army of Survivors. "To know that the FBI could have helped to avoid this trauma disgusts me."
Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years imprisonment in 2018 after over 150 women and girls, including Olympic medalists, said in court he sexually abused them over the previous 20 years.
Michigan State agreed to a $500 million settlement with 332 of Nassar's victims in May 2018. Last December, USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Paralympic Committee followed suit with a $380 million settlement of their own.
Now, White's clients hope, it's the FBI's turn to pay.