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DOJ has decided not to charge the FBI agents who mishandled the Larry Nassar case

Gymnasts from left, Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, and Aly Raisman at a Senate Judiciary hearing about a report on the FBI's handling of the Larry Nassar investigation on Sept. 15, 2021.
Graeme Jennings
Gymnasts from left, Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, and Aly Raisman at a Senate Judiciary hearing about a report on the FBI's handling of the Larry Nassar investigation on Sept. 15, 2021.

Updated May 27, 2022 at 12:01 PM ET

The Justice Department is closing its review of two former FBI agents who botched the investigation into Larry Nassar, the doctor who sexually assaulted dozens of girls and women, including some of the nation's most prominent gymnasts.

In an unsigned statement late Thursday, the department said it had decided not to bring charges against the former special agents at the FBI after receiving a recommendation from experienced federal prosecutors who sifted through evidence and analyzed the issues. One of them is Kenneth Polite, the assistant attorney general in charge of the criminal division who brought fresh eyes to the issues, in part because he was not involved in earlier decisions in the matter.

"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," the Justice Department said in a written statement.

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco pledged to Congress that she would launch a review of the case last October.

"I am deeply sorry that, in this case, the victims did not receive the response or the protection that they deserved," Monaco testified at the time.

Four elite gymnasts offered wrenching and vivid testimony of their own at a Senate hearing last September. McKayla Maroney spoke of sharing her story of abuse with the FBI in grueling detail, only to hear silence on the other end of the phone.

"I am tired of waiting for people to do the right thing," Maroney said.

FBI Director Christopher Wray has apologized for the failings, which he called "inexcusable." The Justice Department said Thursday that authorities would continue to learn from the mistakes and that it would work with Congress to close any gaps in the law.

The fallout from the Nassar scandal continues. Last month, 13 girls and women notified the FBI they intend to sue over the bureau's failure to follow up on early reports of abuse.

John Manly, an attorney who represents survivors of Nassar's abuse, tweeted that the DOJ decision is "a gut punch" to victims and their families. He said the review amounted to "a PR stunt to deflect criticism" and said he would urge Congress to hold another public hearing.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, head of the Senate panel that held the hearing where the gymnasts testified, said the FBI agents' behavior "may not have been criminally actionable, but it was morally unforgivable." The panel, he said, plans to continue its oversight and legislative work to prevent similar abuses from happening.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Carrie Johnson is a justice correspondent for the Washington Desk.