The Justice Department is investigating how the FBI handled sexual-abuse allegations against former U.S. gymnastics national-team doctor Larry Nassar, amid claims agents failed to respond to complaints from gymnasts in 2015, reports the Wall Street Journal. The move by the department’s Inspector General follows an internal Federal Bureau of Investigation review into the bureau’s handling of the Nassar allegations. The gymnasts’ complaints languished for at least nine months before an FBI office opened a formal investigation. Nassar pleaded guilty last year to federal child-pornography charges and state sexual-abuse charges in Michigan, none of which stemmed from national-team gymnasts’ 2015 allegations. In January, he was sentenced to a 60-year sentence in federal prison.
The Justice Department investigation comes as USA Gymnastics continues to reel from the Nassar scandal and from what critics have called its sluggish response to sexual-abuse allegations. The chief executive of the embattled organization, Kerry Perry, resigned on Tuesday after just nine months on the job. The FBI’s role in the Nassar scandal is also under scrutiny by Congress, including the Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees, which in July wrote to FBI Director Christopher Wray seeking information and materials related to the FBI’s handling of the matter. Investigators are interested in the Indianapolis FBI office’s 2015 dealings with the gymnasts. Around September 2015, an agent in the field office spoke with former Olympian McKayla Maroney over the phone to discuss her allegations of abuse by Nassar. That conversation didn’t lead to an investigation.