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DOJ again declines to charge former FBI agents in Nassar case after new review

The Justice Department said Thursday it would not bring charges against two former FBI agents accused of failing to properly investigate USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar after a “careful re-review” of evidence.

The agency said in a news release that it stands by a previous decision not to pursue a criminal case against Michael Langeman and his now-retired boss, W. Jay Abbott, the agent in charge of the FBI’s Indianapolis field office.

“This decision comes after multiple reviews and analyses of evidence gathered in the investigation of the former agents, and reflects the recommendation of experienced prosecutors,” the Justice Department said. “This does not in any way reflect a view that the investigation of Nassar was handled as it should have been, nor in any way reflect approval or disregard of the conduct of the former agents.”

The lead attorney representing victims in the Nassar case, John Manly, responded by blasting the Justice Department and Attorney General Merrick Garland for what he called a “complete failure” to charge the agents who “violated their oaths of office and colluded in the cover-up of the worst sexual assault scandal in the history of sports.”

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The decision also sparked bipartisan outrage on Capitol Hill.

“This decision is infuriating. FBI agents who knew of Larry Nassar’s abuse, did nothing, and then lied about it will face no legal consequences for their actions,” Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Jerry Moran, R-Kan., said in a joint statement.

“Our frustrations are compounded by the fact that the Department has provided no public explanation for this decision,” they added. “As we have noted before, the Justice Manual authorizes a case-closing letter explaining the Department’s decision-making in similar situations, especially where law enforcement officers are accused of misconduct or criminal behavior. This case certainly qualifies for such treatment.”

The Justice Department’s Criminal Division initiated a new review of the agents in October, just months after the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General found the pair had failed to address claims by gymnasts that Nassar had sexually abused them “with the urgency that the allegations required.”

The report further suggested that the two agents lied to investigators to “make it appear that they had been diligent in responding to the sexual abuse allegations.”

The Justice Department’s initial decision not to prosecute the agents prompted the re-review.

Nassar pleaded guilty in 2018 to abusing 10 of the more than 265 patients who came forward to say they had been molested. He is serving up to 175 years in prison.