The Senate Judiciary Committee is keeping the pressure on the FBI and the Justice Department Inspector General to take additional actions to address the mishandling of the FBI’s probe of Larry Nassar.
On Monday, the committee made public a letter a bipartisan group of senators sent to FBI Director Chris Wray, seeking more information on how the FBI is changing its policies in light of the significant errors in the Nassar probe, which were laid out in a Justice Department inspector general report earlier this year.
The committee also sent a letter to DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz, requesting “additional audits of the FBI’s work involving sex crimes against children.”
The botched Nassar probe included delays that, according to the Inspector General, allowed some 70 gymnasts to be abused after the FBI was notified of the allegations against the doctor, and that has drawn bipartisan condemnation on Capitol Hill.
Lawmakers have been especially frustrated with the Justice Department’s decision not to prosecute two ex-FBI officials who allegedly lied in the fallout of the botched probe, through DOJ leaders have said that the department is re-examining those decisions in light of new information.
Among the information that senators asked Wray to turn over: “policies and documents that delineate how the FBI will ensure accountability amongst employees” who violate the policies in question. The senators gave Wray a December 10 deadline.
In their letter to Horowitz, the senators noted that the FBI officials overseeing the Nassar probe violated procedures that were already in place. “For these reasons, there is no guarantee that policy and training improvements alone will actually achieve better outcomes for survivors of abuse and prevent the FBI from repeating its missteps in future cases,” the senators said.
They called for the Inspector General to “take additional steps to ensure that the FBI’s approach to child sex abuse cases is thorough, competent, and compassionate, and that its policy and training improvements actually have their intended effect.”
Nassar – who, at one time, was a top doctor for USA Gymnastics as well as for Michigan State University – is currently serving a 40-to-175 year prison sentence after pleading guilty to seven counts of criminal sexual conduct in a case brought by Michigan prosecutors.
How the FBI mishandled its investigation into Nassar continues to be scrutinized, and in September, the Senate Judiciary Committee hosted an emotional hearing where several top gymnasts testified about the abuse they say they suffered at the hands of the doctor. One of those gymnasts, McKayla Maroney, was interviewed by the FBI in the summer 2015, only for the probe to stall out while Nassar continued to abuse other gymnasts, according to the inspector general. Wray and Horowitz also testified at the September hearing.
In their latest letter to Wray, the Judiciary Committee senators said that it was “imperative that Congress is fully aware of the steps the FBI is taking to ensure that we may provide the Bureau with adequate resources, and ensure that these mistakes are never repeated.” They are seeking information about FBI’s policies for interviews with child abuse victims, as well as other information about how the FBI handles sex abuse cases.
The senators are asking the inspector general to conduct additional audits related to the FBI’s approach to sex crime investigations.
“It is our hope that additional audits will identify further areas of improvement for the FBI related to sex crimes against children and result in better outcomes for survivors,” they senators said in their letter to Horowitz.