At least 27 girls and women said disgraced USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar sexually assaulted them while he was under FBI investigation for similar behavior, according to a new Saturday report from The New York Times.
Nassar first came under FBI suspicion in July 2015 after the agency received complaints from three top-tier female athletes, including two Olympic gymnasts. He was permitted to continue practicing medicine until September 2016, when the Indianapolis Star published damning accusations against him.
The sluggish pace of the FBI investigation ― split between agents in three cities ― allowed Nassar’s abuse to continue unnecessarily, the Times suggested. In a statement, the FBI responded, saying its investigation “transcended jurisdictions,” pointing to bureaucratic inefficiency as a possible explanation for the slow pace. (Bureaus in Indiana, Michigan and Texas were involved in the case.)
The list of young women accusing the now-convicted doctor of sexual abuse currently stands at 265. Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison on seven counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct in January, and he is currently awaiting sentencing on another three counts.
His case has prompted furious questions from accusers and their family members demanding to know why Nassar’s abuse continued for more than two decades.
The FBI investigation was slow from the start. USA Gymnastics officials first alerted agents about Nassar’s behavior 41 days after they were told a coach overheard a conversation between gymnast Maggie Nichols and Olympian Aly Raisman about the doctor’s uncomfortable techniques. Nassar was then a respected sports physician who worked at Michigan State University and traveled with USA Gymnastics.
A third gymnast, Olympian McKayla Maroney, then emerged as a “central complainant,” per the Times.
The information was quickly shared with the gymnasts’ parents and officials at USA Gymnastics, but it took more than a month for it to land at the FBI. Nichols’ mother told the Times that now-former USA Gymnastics president Steve Penny repeatedly asked her to keep the matter quiet as the organization figured out what to do.
The investigation into Nassar’s abuse accelerated with the 2016 Indianapolis Star report, containing accusations from two women not involved in the FBI’s probe. Nassar is expected to spend the rest of his life behind bars.