Senate committee to hold hearing on FBI's handling of Nassar case

George Hunter
The Detroit News

The Senate Judiciary Committee announced Thursday it will conduct an oversight hearing into the FBI’s “dereliction of duty” in its failure to properly investigate sexual abuse allegations against former Michigan State University sports doctor Larry Nassar.

The announcement comes a day after U.S. Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s office found multiple failures by FBI field offices to properly investigate the allegations against Nassar. The report said senior officials in the FBI Indianapolis Field Office “failed to respond ... with the urgency that the allegations required" and made "fundamental errors when it did respond.”

Larry Nassar

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said in a statement Thursday: “The FBI’s failure in this case led to more athletes being victimized. This committee has the responsibility of oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation —and will hold a hearing to examine this injustice and to prevent future, similar tragedies.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., added in the statement that the FBI’s “failure to investigate” Nassar “allowed at least 70 young women to be assaulted … no one should have to endure the horrors these young women suffered through.”

More:Justice watchdog critical of FBI's delay in probing complaints about Nassar abuse

Feinstein was referencing the OIG report, which suggested the FBI investigators’ delays allowed Nassar to continue molesting young athletes for months after the abuse was reported. The report cites court documents that show at least 70 women were allegedly sexually abused by Nassar between July 2015 — when the first complaint against Nassar was filed with the FBI Indianapolis Field Office — and August 2016, when a separate complaint of sexual abuse by Nassar was filed with MSU police.

“The IG report confirms my fears that the FBI dropped the ball, allowing abuses to continue for months,” Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said in Thursday’s statement. “The Judiciary Committee’s upcoming hearing is a continuation of our oversight to get to the bottom of this. The FBI owes the American people an accounting for its failure to protect these children, and explanation for how it plans to do better in the future.”

Nassar was convicted in 2018 and was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison in Ingham County on seven sexual assault charges and 40 to 125 years in Eaton County on three sexual assault charges tied to Twistars. He was already serving a 60-year federal sentence for possessing 37,000 images of child pornography in a separate case.

Last year, 120 of Nassar’s victims petitioned the Justice Department to release the OIG report, sending a letter to Horowitz on the fifth anniversary of the first reports to the FBI of the allegations against Nassar.