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


WASHINGTON — The F.B.I. has indicated that it’s willing to settle scores of lawsuits filed against the bureau for its failure to research Lawrence G. Nassar, the previous doctor for U.S.A. Gymnastics who was later convicted on state sexual abuse charges.

In a letter to lawyers representing women who’ve sued the F.B.I., the bureau said it was “desirous about considering all options to succeed in a resolution, including settlement discussions,” in line with a replica of the letter reviewed by The Recent York Times on Thursday.

John C. Manly, a lawyer representing lots of the plaintiffs, declined to comment.

In June, greater than 90 women filed their civil suits after the Justice Department declined to prosecute two former F.B.I. agents who were accused by the department’s watchdog of bungling a 2015 inquiry into Mr. Nassar. Mr. Manly said on the time that the plaintiffs were searching for different amounts in damages, but their total claims would exceed $1 billion.

Plaintiffs including the Olympic gold medalists Simone Biles, Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney say they were sexually assaulted by Mr. Nassar, and so they accused the F.B.I. of failing to research him when it received credible details about his abuse.

In a separate suit in April, 13 female athletes made similar accusations against the F.B.I., searching for $10 million each.

The F.B.I.’s handling of the Nassar investigation and the Justice Department’s decision to not prosecute the agents have drawn sharp criticism, including from lawmakers like Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, and Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California. The agents ought to be held accountable, Mr. Blumenthal said, calling the choice to not charge them “infuriating.”

Kenneth A. Polite, the top of the Justice Department’s criminal division, met Mr. Blumenthal and Ms. Feinstein on Thursday to temporary them on the case and the F.B.I.’s offer to enter joint settlement talks, in line with an individual conversant in the matter.

“I remain deeply dissatisfied and anxious with the dearth of public explanation for the rationale to say no prosecution,” Mr. Blumenthal said after his meeting with Mr. Polite. “The reason we got still leaves me very troubled concerning the adequacy of the investigation and Justice Department’s decision.”

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

In a scathing report released last summer, the department’s inspector general accused W. Jay Abbott, who was answerable for the bureau’s Indianapolis field office, and Michael Langeman, an agent in that office, of constructing false statements to investigators who were examining how the F.B.I. had handled the Nassar case.

People charged with making false statements to a federal investigator can face a maximum of 5 years in prison.

After the agents received credible details about Mr. Nassar’s abuse in 2015, they interviewed gymnasts including Ms. Maroney, but ultimately did nothing more, in line with the inspector general. And so they didn’t share information they’d received about Mr. Nassar with state or local law enforcement.

For greater than a 12 months afterward, Mr. Nassar continued to treat and sexually assault dozens of patients, including ones at Michigan State; Twistars gymnastics club in Dimondale, Mich.; and Holt High School in Michigan. He was not stopped until Michigan authorities arrested him in late 2016.

Last fall, Christopher A. Wray, the F.B.I. director, testified before Congress that “there have been people on the F.B.I. who had their likelihood to stop this monster back in 2015 and failed.”

The deputy attorney general, Lisa O. Monaco, told lawmakers that the Justice Department was initiating a review into how the agents handled the Nassar case based on recent evidence.

But in May, the department declined to charge Mr. Abbott and Mr. Langeman, regardless that they appeared to have made false statements. Officials said that prosecutors didn’t have enough evidence to bring criminal charges.

“This doesn’t in any way reflect a view that the investigation of Nassar was handled because it must have been, nor in any way reflect approval or disregard of the conduct of the previous agents,” the department said in an announcement, adding that the choice reflected the guidance of experienced prosecutors.

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