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Senate committee to hold hearing following FBI watchdog's report on Nassar case
The Senate Judiciary Committee announced on Thursday that it will hold an oversight hearing on the FBI's "dereliction of duty," after a watchdog report concluded that the bureau failed to respond to the allegations of abuse against USA Gymnastics physician Larry Nassar with the "seriousness and urgency" required.
"The FBI's failure in this case led to more athletes being victimized. This Committee has the responsibility of oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation-and will hold a hearing to examine this injustice and to prevent future, similar tragedies," Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a statement.
The Justice Department's Office of Inspector General revealed in a highly anticipated report released on Wednesday that FBI officials did not quickly address the allegations against Nassar, despite the possibility of the alleged abuse continuing.
The FBI and local authorities were allegedly delayed in beginning their investigations into Nassar for more than a year, due to a number of failures detailed in the report.
"Despite the extraordinarily serious nature of the allegations and the possibility that Nassar's conduct could be continuing, senior officials in the FBI Indianapolis Field Office failed to respond to the Nassar allegations with the utmost seriousness and urgency that they deserved and required," the watchdog wrote.
The inspector general also reported that when the FBI field office did respond, it made "numerous and fundamental errors" and "violated multiple FBI policies."
Nassar was charged with federal pornography charges and sexual abuse charges in Michigan in 2016, and was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison in 2018 after pleading guilty to 10 molestation charges.
Last year, more than 120 victims of Nassar's abuse called on the Justice Department to release the inspector general report.
The FBI responded to the inspector general report in a statement shared with The Hill on Wednesday, calling the "actions and inactions" of certain FBI employees "inexcusable and a discredit to this organization."
"As the Inspector General made clear in today's report, this should not have happened. The FBI will never lose sight of the harm that Nassar's abuse caused," the bureau wrote.
The bureau also said it has taken "affirmative steps to ensure and has confirmed that those responsible for the misconduct and breach of trust no longer work FBI matters," and is "fully committed" to implementing the recommendations set forth in the report.
"Prior to today, the FBI initiated improvements to make sure that serious allegations, such as these, are promptly shared with our law enforcement partners and within the FBI. As a continuation of these efforts, the FBI is fully committed to implementing all of the recommendations made by the Inspector General," the bureau added.
"The IG report confirms my fears that the FBI dropped the ball, allowing abuses to continue for months," Sen Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in statement.
"The Judiciary Committee's upcoming hearing is a continuation of our oversight to get to the bottom of this," he added. "The FBI owes the American people an accounting for its failure to protect these children, and explanation for how it plans to do better in the future."