Two ex-FBI agents accused of botching the sex-abuse case against former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, who molested girls on the team, will not be charged, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said Thursday.
Following a “careful re-review of evidence,” the department declined to charged the former agents, who are accused of lying about their work on the case. The former agents were being probed in the wake of gripping testimony last year from gymnastics superstar Simone Biles and several of her teammates who were victimized by Nassar even though he had been reported to the FBI.
“This does not in any way reflect a view that the investigation of Nassar was handled as it should have been, nor in any way reflects approval or disregard of the conduct of the former agents,” the DOJ said in a statement.
Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco ordered a review after several gymnasts gave tearful testimony to the House Judiciary Committee last September. The described the abuse they suffered under Nassar, the now-58-year-old doctor from Michigan State University who is in prison for life for possession of child pornography and molesting at least 10 underage girls. Prosecutors suspect he sexually assaulted hundreds of girls under the guise of rendering medical treatment.
DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz found that the former FBI agents, a supervisor and his subordinate, lied to internal investigators to cover up their failure to investigate credible claims made against Nassar in 2015. That failure allowed Nassar to continue to victimize young girls. One of the agents, W. Jay Abbott, retired and the other, Michael Langeman, was fired last year.
The Justice Department said it will “continue to learn from what occurred in this matter, and undertake efforts to keep victims at the center of our work and to ensure that they are heard, respected, and treated fairly throughout the process, as they deserve,” and said it wanted to work with Congress to address unspecified gaps in the law to “help prevent events like this from taking place in the future and hold perpetrators accountable.”
Simone Biles and three other high-profile gymnasts gave emotional testimony to the Judiciary Committee last year about Nassar’s abuse and the FBI’s failure to act.
“I blame Larry Nassar, and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse,” Biles told lawmakers.
At least 330 girls and women have said Nassar molested them.
FBI Director Christopher Wray called the bureau’s failures “inexcusable.”
“It never should have happened, and we’re doing everything in our power to make sure it never happens again,” he said.
Langeman allegedly lied to Horowitz’s office in interviews in 2020 and 2021, according to the IG report. Langeman was questioned about why he did not pursue an investigation of Nassar and why he wrote a report of an interview with a key victim more than a year after the interview took place. The IG report did not name Langeman, but found that he lied “in an effort to minimize or excuse his errors.”
The Inspector General also determined that USA Gymnastics President Stephen Penny unsuccessfully lobbied for Abbott, who headed the FBI’s Indianapolis office, even while Nassar was being investigated.