Among the most searing critics of the FBI’s mishandling of sexual abuse allegations against disgraced USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar was the FBI itself.
The bureau Wednesday acknowledged stunning failures of its agents as outlined in a blistering review by the Justice Department’s inspector general.
In a two-page response attached to the inspector general’s report, the FBI characterized the actions of two senior agents, both accused of making false statements to investigators, as “completely unacceptable” and “troubling.”
An unnamed supervisory special agent, the bureau said, has been reassigned pending the completion of an internal FBI investigation. And the bureau said the actions of the former chief of the FBI’s Indianapolis Division, W. Jay Abbott, who retired in January 2018, “reflect a violation of the FBI’s longstanding code of conduct and the ethical obligations of FBI employees, especially senior officials.”
IG: FBI official sought employment with Olympic Committee
After the initial allegations of sexual abuse were brought to the FBI in 2015 – and largely ignored – investigators said Abbott sought employment with the U.S. Olympic Committee.
Abbott, the inspector general found, discussed potential employment with the committee while he weighed the allegations against Nassar and later made false statements about those conversations on two occasions when he was questioned by investigators.
“The extent of his behavior as he sought employment (with the Olympic committee) is particularly troubling, as is the conclusion that he made false statements to the OIG,” the FBI said. “Simply put, the behavior described in the report is not representative of the FBI or of our tens of thousands of retirees and current employees.”
In a separate statement after the report’s release, the FBI echoed the inspector general’s findings, saying the conduct “should not have happened.”
“The FBI will never lose sight of the harm that Nassar’s abuse caused. The actions and inactions of certain FBI employees described in the Report are inexcusable and a discredit to this organization. The FBI has taken affirmative steps to ensure and has confirmed that those responsible for the misconduct and breach of trust no longer work FBI matters.”
Changes to sexual assault policies
While acknowledging the acute failures and misconduct of its senior agents, the bureau said FBI Director Chris Wray had launched a review that will clarify requirements to document and retain complaints regarding sexual abuse and sexual assault.
FBI policy also will be amended to require 30-day status checks on complaints involving sexual abuse and assault to determine whether further investigation is warranted. Wray also has ordered additional training in dealing with such victims, especially children.
“We do not lose sight of the victims that suffered abuse and mistreatment because of potential missed opportunities to disrupt the further criminal behavior of the now-convicted Nassar in 2015 and 2016,” the FBI said. “The conduct and facts in the report are appalling, and we appreciate your continued efforts to examine it and recommend further improvements and safeguards.”
The report was the inspector general’s most stinging rebuke of the FBI’s work since 2019, when investigators found that applications for the surveillance of a former Trump campaign adviser were riddled with errors.