Jan 3, 2023
The Justice Department is implementing changes to improve the ways federal agents and prosecutors engage with crime victims and witnesses. Additionally, efforts to better coordinate with state authorities are said to be an ongoing priority for the Justice Department, according to a new CNN report.
Said changes are being implemented after serious errors and outright incompetence was uncovered in the FBI’s handling of sexual abuse allegations against former USA Gymnastics doctor, Larry Nassar.
On Friday, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco announced the following changes in light of the FBI’s botched Larry Nassar sexual abuse investigation:
Both of those shortcomings were highlighted extensively in the now infamous FBI “Dereliction of Duty” inspector general report, which was recently released and outlined the department’s mishandling of the Nassar Investigation.
“When considering whether to initiate federal criminal charges, we must never forget the people who put their trust in the Department to keep them safe,” Monaco wrote. “Preventing violence or harm must be our top priority. Nowhere is this obligation more important than when vulnerable populations – including minors – are at risk.”
Additionally, Monaco announced the relaunching of a working group for crime victims and said she would update attorney general guidelines for victim and witness assistance (the latter of which, she said, have not had a comprehensive overhaul in a decade). Monaco asked for recommendations within 120 days.
“The Department is committed to protecting crime victims’ rights and treating victims and witnesses with respect in all of our interactions,” Monaco added.
Nassar, 58, is currently serving a 40-to-174-year state prison sentence. 156 women and girls have come forward with allegations that he sexually abused them over the course of 20 years.
The inspector general report further uncovered gross failures on the part of the FBI, including a failure to properly investigate complaints from gymnasts with credible first-hand knowledge of the abuse. Those gymnasts went to the FBI in 2015 to sound the alarm on Nassar’s sex crimes, but their reports fell on deaf ears.
According to the inspector general report, between July 2015 – the time when USA Gymnastics officials first notified the FBI about the sexual abuse allegations against Nassar – and September 2016 – the time when the FBI eventually began to take initial steps through an official investigation – at least 70 additional athletes were abused by Nassar.
At last month’s Senate Judiciary Committee testimony, many of the women abused by Nassar – including Simone Biles and Aly Raisman – railed against the Justice Department for not doing more to punish the FBI agents who failed to do their jobs and conduct a thorough investigation into Nassar when they had the chance.
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