DOJ offers to begin settlement discussions with sexual assault survivors of disgraced USA Gymnastics doctor Nassar
The FBI recently sent a letter, reviewed by CNN, to attorneys representing the survivors who filed claims under the Federal Torts Claims Act, which allows individuals to sue the US government for negligence.
“We are reviewing these claims and are interested in considering all options to reaching a resolution, including settlement discussions,” the letter said in part. “Please let us know if your clients are interested in trying to resolve this matter administratively.”
Ken Polite, the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s criminal division, went to Capitol Hill on Thursday to brief lawmakers who have been involved in investigating the FBI’s botched handling of the Nassar investigation, people familiar with the matter told CNN.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, told CNN that Polite indicated during the briefing there is a “form of negotiations ongoing” with respect to a settlement.
“I think he came to us in good faith, but he is late to this issue,” Blumenthal said of Polite on Thursday, adding that the Justice Department should make public everything it has told lawmakers and that the lawsuit against the FBI was filed “with good reason and justification.”
“The survivors rightly felt that the FBI totally bungled this investigation, which, by the way, the Department of Justice acknowledged,” Blumenthal said.
CNN is reaching out to the survivors and their lawyers.
Nassar, 57, is serving a 40-to-174-year prison sentence in Michigan.
Thirteen survivors filed claims against the FBI totaling $130 million in April, claiming that the FBI field offices in Indianapolis and Los Angeles failed to act properly on sexual abuse allegations against Nassar.
The lawsuit is largely based off of an Inspector General’s report from last year, which said that agents violated the FBI’s policies by making false statements and failing to properly document survivors’ complaints.
The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the botched investigation last year, when several Olympic gymnasts recounted suffering abuse at the hands of Nassar and the trauma of watching the justice system fail to act on their horrific allegations.
Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman recalled during the hearing how an FBI agent had “made me feel like my abuse didn’t count and it wasn’t a big deal.” McKayla Maroney, also a gold medalist, said that the FBI “allowed a child molester to go free for more than a year and this inaction directly allowed Nassar’s abuse to continue.”
FBI Director Chris Wray, who was not the director of the FBI when the Nassar investigation occurred, told the Senate judiciary lawmakers that he was “heartsick and furious” once he learned the extent of the agency’s failures, and that the actions of the agents involved were “unacceptable.”
This story has been updated with additional details.