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F.B.I. Indicates It’s Willing to Settle Nassar Lawsuits

WASHINGTON — The FBI has said it is willing to settle dozens of lawsuits filed against the agency for failing to investigate Lawrence G. Nassar, the former U.S. gymnastics doctor who was later convicted of sexual abuse by the US. state.

In a letter to attorneys representing women who have sued the FBI, the agency said it was “interested in considering all options to reach a resolution, including settlement talks,” according to a copy of the letter published Thursday by The New York Times has been reviewed.

John C. Manly, an attorney representing many of the plaintiffs, declined to comment.

In June, more than 90 women filed their civil lawsuits after the Justice Department refused to prosecute two former FBI agents accused by the Department’s watchdog of botching a 2015 investigation into Mr Nassar. Mr Manly said at the time that the plaintiffs were seeking various damages but their total claims would exceed $1 billion.

Plaintiffs, including Olympic gold medalists Simone Biles, Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney, say they were sexually assaulted by Mr. Nassar, and they accused the FBI of failing to investigate him when it received credible information about his abuse.

In a separate lawsuit in April, 13 female athletes made similar allegations against the FBI, demanding $10 million each.

The FBI’s approach to the Nassar investigation and the Justice Department’s decision not to prosecute the agents have drawn strong criticism, including from lawmakers such as Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, and Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of Connecticut. California. The agents must be held accountable, Mr Blumenthal said, called the decision not to charge them “irritating.”

Kenneth A. Polite, the head of the Justice Department’s criminal division, met with Mr. Blumenthal and Ms. Feinstein on Thursday to brief them on the case and the FBI’s offer to conduct joint settlement talks, according to one person. who is familiar with the matter.

“I remain deeply dissatisfied and concerned about the lack of public explanation of the reason for rejecting prosecution,” Mr Blumenthal said after meeting Mr Polite. “The explanation we received still leaves me very concerned about the adequacy of the investigation and the decision of the Department of Justice.”

Mr Blumenthal urged the Justice Department to take the rare step of issuing a report or letter explaining the reasoning. “The gymnasts and survivors owe a justification,” he said.

In a damning report released last summer, Department Inspector General W. Jay Abbott, who was in charge of the agency in Indianapolis, and Michael Langeman, an agent in that office, accused of making false statements. to investigators investigating how the FBI had handled the Nassar case.

People accused of making false statements to a federal investigator can face up to five years in prison.

After the officers received credible information about Mr Nassar’s abuse in 2015, they interviewed gymnasts, including Ms Maroney, but ultimately did nothing more, the inspector general said. And they failed to share the information they had received about Mr. Nassar with state or local law enforcement.

More than a year later, Mr. Nassar continued to treat and sexually abuse dozens of patients, including patients in the state of Michigan; Twistars Gymnastics Club in Dimondale, Michigan; and Holt High School in Michigan. He was not stopped until Michigan authorities arrested him in late 2016.

Last fall, Christopher A. Wray, the FBI director, testified before Congress that “there were people at the FBI who had a chance to stop this monster in 2015 and failed.”

The Deputy Attorney General, Lisa O. Monaco, told lawmakers that the Justice Department was reviewing the way the agents handled the Nassar case based on new evidence.

But in May, the department declined to charge Mr. Abbott and Mr. Langeman, even though they appeared to have made false statements. Officials said prosecutors did not have enough evidence to bring criminal charges.

“This in no way reflects the view that the investigation into Nassar has been handled as it should have been, and in no way reflects approval or disregard for the behavior of the former agents,” the ministry said. said in a statementadding that the decision reflected guidance from experienced prosecutors.

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