The Army of Survivors expresses its deep disappointment regarding the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) decision to not bring criminal charges against the FBI agents who failed in their investigation into Larry Nassar.
Part of the release from the DOJ reads: “While the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General has outlined serious concerns about the former agents’ conduct during the Nassar investigation, and also described how evidence shows that during interviews in the years after the events in question both former agents appear to have provided inaccurate or incomplete information to investigators, the Principles of Federal Prosecution require more to bring a federal criminal case.”
To this we ask: if evidence of lying to the government during an investigation into child sex abuse is not enough to bring about a federal criminal case, what is? In the interest of transparency, an explanation should have been given as to what qualifies as worth a criminal case, according to the DOJ.
For more than a decade, numerous adults and powerful figures failed survivors as Larry Nassar continued to sexually abuse hundreds under the guise of medical treatment. With its re-review of evidence in this investigation, the DOJ had an opportunity to bring accountability to individuals who enabled this abuse, and it failed to do so. In order for the American people to have trust in its government institutions, such institutions must bring justice to those who put their selfish interests above the wellbeing of citizens.
Following a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with sister survivors Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Maggie Nichols last fall, the Justice Department committed to a thorough investigation into the failings of the FBI. At the time, The Army of Survivors expressed concern in the government’s lack of proper procedures in addressing issues of sexual abuse. That concern is only heightened following the DOJ’s decision to not criminally charge the agents.
It is imperative that safe and effective reporting procedures are put in place for survivors, and that justice is served to perpetrators and enablers. Legislative reform in child sexual abuse cases is needed to effectively protect survivors and to create accountability and bring justice. It is our sincere hope these processes will be survivor-centered and trauma-informed. “Assessing gaps,” as stated in Thursday’s announcement, is not enough. Many gaps have been revealed, and it’s time to act. The DOJ closed its announcement with “We stand ready to collaborate with Congress to do so.” We demand that DOJ leaders include survivors with lived experience in those collaborations.
As a survivor-led and survivor-centered organization, we extend our thoughts to those survivors who may be struggling. You are not alone in your journey, and you are worthy of justice. We will continue to work toward creating a safer world free of sexual violence against athletes.