WASHINGTON – Two former FBI agents accused of bungling bureau’s investigation of Lawrence G. Nassar, a former doctor for USA Gymnastics who was convicted on state sex abuse and federal child pornography charges, will not be prosecuted, the Justice Department said on Thursday.
The decision ends a review the department initiated in October, months after its inspector general issued a scathing report that sharply criticized the FBI’s handling of the case, which was brought to the bureau’s Indianapolis office in July 2015.
The FBI’s failure to act on the information it received Nassar to assault additional girls. Hundreds of female patients, including many members of the US Women’s Olympic Gymnastics teams, say they abused them under the guise of medical treatment.
The former agents, W. Jay Abbott, who was in charge of the Bureau’s Indianapolis field office, and Michael Langeman, who worked in that office, were accused of making false statements of the Justice Department’s watchdog when it reviewed the matter.
“It does not reflect any way in which the investigation of Nassar was handled as it should have been, nor in any way reflect approval or disregard of the conduct of the former agents,” the department said in a statement, adding that the The decision reflects the guidance of experienced prosecutors.
Even as the Justice Department acknowledged that the agents had appeared to make false statements, it said that prosecutors did not have sufficient evidence to bring criminal charges.
Mr. Nassar’s victims and their representatives excoriated the decision.
“The continued failure by the Department of Justice to criminally charge the FBI agents, USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee officials who conspired to cover up the biggest sexual abuse scandal in the sport of history is incomprehensible,” said John C. Manly, a lawyer who represents some of the survivors.
Last summer, the Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, accused Mr. Abbott’s giving false statements to his investigators numerous times when asked about the Nassar case, “to minimize errors made by the connection to the Indianapolis field office handling the Nassar allegations.”
He also said that Mr. Abbott violated FBI policy by discussing potential job opportunities with USA Gymnastics at the same time that he spoke to the organization about the allegations against Mr. Nassar.
Mr. Abbott retired from the FBI in 2018, three years before the inspector general completed his report. Mr. Langeman was fired shortly after the report was released. But the Justice Department chose not to prosecute either man.
Mr. Nassar’s victims, their families and members of Congress were outraged by the inspector general’s findings and the Justice Department’s decision not to investigate if FBI agents should be criminally charged on suspicion of lying to investigators.
Three months later, Ms. Monaco told Congress that new information was coming to light, prompting her to head the department’s criminal division review.
“I want the survivors to understand how exceptionally seriously we take this issue and believe that this deserves a thorough and full review,” Ms. Monaco said last October.
The victims were “promised action” by Ms. Monaco, Mr. Manly said. “There was no action for more than six months and now this promise to the survivors has been broken.”
The FBI met in 2015 with several gymnasts who alleged Mr. Nassar’s abuse, including McKayla Maroney, an Olympic gold medalist who detailed those allegations in a three-hour interview. She testified before Congress that the FBI responded to her account by saying, “Is that all?”
“Not only did the FBI report my abuse, but when they finally documented my report 17 months later, they made completely false claims about what I said,” Ms. Maroney said. “They chose to lie about what I said and protect a serial child molester.”
Mr. Nassar continued to sexually assault scores of girls after Ms. Maroney spoke with the FBI and was charged by the State of Michigan in 2017. Mr. Nassar is serving what amounts to life in prison.