Feb 3, 2018

FBI had "little evident urgency" while investigating Nassar, NYT finds

Photo: Jeff Kowalsky / AFP / Getty Images

A New York Times investigation found at least 27 women and girls who say they were abused by former gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, between "when he first fell under F.B.I. scrutiny, and ... when he was exposed by an Indianapolis Star investigation."

Why it matters: Per the Times, the FBI's investigation of Nassar "moved with little evident urgency." Two of the three victims whose allegations started the investigation weren't interviewed by the agency for almost a year after it started. After USA Gymnastics officials turned the allegations over to the FBI, they felt the agents "had advised them not to discuss the case with anyone," NYT notes.

The timeline, per the Times:

  • In the spring of 2015, gymnast Maggie Nichols was overheard speaking about Nassar's "inappropriate techniques" with Aly Raisman at the training facility at Karolyi ranch in Texas.
  • Weeks later, the organization retained "an experienced female investigator," who concluded the allegations be turned over to law enforcement.
  • 41 days after USA Gymnastics "first received the report of the sexual abuse of one of its charges," the FBI office in Indianapolis was notified.
  • In "late July or early August," McKayla Maroney (one of the three central victims) was asked to come to Indianapolis to discuss Nassar with the FBI. She declined, resulting in "the first substantive interview" of a child-molestation victim over the phone.
  • In September, Maroney was "directed...to contact the FBI East Lansing office." Her mother called the office "'repeatedly,' but received no follow-up response."
  • On September 27, Nassar announced he was leaving the national women's gymnastics team staff.
  • In May 2016, Maroney was interviewed in-person for the first time by FBI officials, "294 days since the FBI was first notified of accusations against Nassar."
  • In the summer of 2016, Raisman was contacted by the FBI.
  • On June 13, 2016, Nichols was contacted by an LA-based FBI agent, Michael Hess, and they met in-person. While she had been instructed not to discuss the investigation by USA Gymnastics, Hess told her: "You can talk to anybody you want."
  • On September 12, 2016, an investigation from The Indianapolis Star was published, "detailing allegations that Dr. Nassar had repeatedly molested two gymnasts."

Go deeper: The overwhelming case against Larry Nassar.

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