The Justice Department's criminal division has opened a new review into the FBI's handling of the investigation into Larry Nassar, the U.S. gymnastics team doctor who's serving a 175-year sentence for sexually abusing his patients.
Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco disclosed the existence of the probe Tuesday while testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the Violence Against Women Act. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., had asked Monaco about the Justice Department's decision last year not to prosecute two agents who allegedly lied to its inspector general about their failure to investigate the allegations against the disgraced physician.
"I can inform the committee today that the recently confirmed assistant attorney general for the criminal decision is currently reviewing this matter, including new information that has come to light," Monaco said.
"I am constrained in what more I can say about it, but I do want the committee and frankly I want the survivors to understand how exceptionally seriously we take this issue and believe this deserves a thorough and fair review," she said.
The inspector general's report found that even though gymnasts first reported the sexual assault allegations to the FBI in 2015, Nassar continued to treat gymnasts at Michigan State University, a high school and a gymnastics club until September 2016. Nassar later pleaded guilty to abusing 10 of the more than 265 patients who came forward to say they had been molested.
In powerful and emotional testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last month, Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles said the FBI “turned a blind eye to us.”
“We have been failed, and we deserve answers. Nassar is where he belongs, but those who enabled him deserve to be held accountable," she testified.
Monaco praised Biles and the other gymnasts who came forward to testify, and said they "deserved better than what they got from the FBI and from the Justice Department."
"You can be assured there is a sense of urgency and gravity with the work what needs to be done," she said.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, noted the statute of limitations for criminal charges related to lying to the FBI is five years, and that six years have gone by since the allegations were first reported by the FBI. Monaco said she would not discuss "what legal theories could be pursued."
One of the Indianapolis field office agents singled out in the inspector general's report, Michael Langeman, was fired from the agency last month.
The other, Langeman's boss, Jay Abbott, retired in 2018. The inspector general had referred both agents for prosecution last year, but the Justice Department declined to do so.