The FBI has signaled it is open to settling lawsuits seeking more than $1 billion over its mishandling of an investigation into sexual abuse by former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, according to emails sent to victims’ attorneys and seen by NBC News.
Among the 90 women suing are Olympic gymnasts Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney and Aly Raisman. The total number is expected to grow as additional claimants plan to file in the coming weeks.
Emails sent to attorneys representing victims of Nassar state in part: “We are reviewing these claims, and are interested in considering all options to reaching a resolution, including settlement discussions. Please let us know if your clients are interested in trying to resolve this matter administratively.”
The emails were sent by Kristin L. Ellis, acting deputy general counsel of the agency’s litigation branch.
The FBI and Department of Justice declined to comment Friday.
The Wall Street Journal first reported Thursday that Justice Department senior officials told U.S. senators that the department has begun negotiations to settle claims.
Nassar is serving a sentence of 40 to 175 years in prison after pleading guilty to criminal sexual conduct charges. More than 265 people have alleged they were they were molested by the doctor.
In June, a group representing the 90 women filed federal tort claims against the FBI.
The majority of the claimants say Nassar abused them after his abuse was reported to the FBI in 2015, during a yearlong period in which no meaningful investigative action was taken and Nassar continued to sexually abuse young women and children.
The Justice Department’s inspector general in 2021 found that the FBI officials failed to treat allegations of sexual abuse with the urgency they required, among other problems. The inspector general found that the FBI’s Indianapolis field office made “fundamental errors.”
In May, the Justice Department after an additional review said it would not bring charges against two FBI agents accused of failing to properly investigate Nassar.