In the ongoing conversation to believe women when it comes to #MeToo claims, is the push for actual accountability for those who may have dismissed, denied or delayed acting on the claims in the first place. Case in point is the USA Gymnastics scandal that rocked the sport.
More than 90 women who say they were sexually assaulted by former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar have filed federal tort claims against the FBI on Wednesday for failing to reprimand the now-convicted child molester after receiving allegations made against him, lawyers reported, per the Associated Press.
The claims specify the yearlong gap between the FBI's initial acquisition of reports detailing Nassar's longstanding abuse and his subsequent arrest, which was prompted by a local law enforcement investigation and not the federal agency.
The lawsuits come just two weeks after the Justice Department announced that the individual FBI agents who botched the 2015 investigation and misled investigators for the Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General would not face any charges. A handful of victims asserted that Nassar continued to sexually abuse young women and girls after his crimes were reported with no meaningful action from the bureau.
Plaintiffs in the case include Olympic gold medalists Simone Biles, Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney along with NCAA national champion gymnast Maggie Nichols, former University of Michigan gymnast Samantha Roy and former-gymnast-turned-advocate Kaylee Lorincz.
"My fellow survivors and I were betrayed by every institution that was supposed to protect us — the U.S. Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics, the FBI and now the Department of Justice," Maroney said in a statement. "It is clear that the only path to justice and healing is through the legal process."
In April, 13 other victims filed similar Collective Administrative Claims against the FBI. According to NBC News, Wednesday's filing is not the first under the Federal Tort Claims Act, but it is the largest and includes Nassar's most prominent accusers. Collectively, the claimants are seeking more than $1 billion in damages.
In September 2021, Biles, Maroney, Raisman and Nichols also testified before Congress, criticizing both the FBI and the Justice Department for their mishandling of the investigations.
"The FBI knew that Larry Nassar was a danger to children when his abuse of me was first reported in September of 2015. For 421 days they worked with USA Gymnastics and USOPC to hide this information from the public and allowed Nassar to continue molesting young women and girls. It is time for the FBI to be held accountable," said Nichols.
Nassar pleaded guilty to multiple counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct in 2018 after 265 women, including many members of the U.S. Olympic women's gymnastics team and the Michigan State University gymnastics program, accused him of sexual abuse. He is currently serving up to 175 years in prison.
"If the F.B.I. had simply done its job, Nassar would have been stopped before he ever had the chance to abuse hundreds of girls, including me," Roy said in a statement, per The New York Times.
Original Story By Salon, Story by Joy Saha is an editorial fellow at Salon, covering Culture. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park.