Survivor reacts after FBI blamed for mishandling Larry Nassar sexual abuse case: "It was covered up and lied about"
A triggering feeling of disappointment surrounded Jessica Howard after a scathing report found that the FBI made a series of critical errors in its handling of sexual abuse allegations against former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar. Nassar sexually abused female athletes for years, including Howard herself.
"At the beginning of this process. It [Howard's feelings] used to be fiery and outrage like how can this happen, and now I don't know. I guess I've come to expect that nothing will be done. But again, you're talking about the FBI. The FBI is one of the most trusted institutions in our country," Howard told "CBS This Morning."
The Justice Department's inspector general accuses the FBI of failing to respond to the Nassar allegations "with the utmost seriousness and urgency that they deserved."
The report said about 70 or more young athletes were allegedly sexually abused by Nassar after the bureau first learned about the accusations but before his arrest more than a year later. Howard said that the FBI's failures had a human cost.
"So it's not that they just messed up. It's not that they just didn't, they fumbled around and messed up. They actually have affected the lives of at least 70 to 120 young girls," Howard said.
Nassar is serving over 100 years in prison for crimes of sexual abuse and child pornography after pleading guilty to multiple charges. Hundreds of girls and women say he sexually abused them, under the premise of medical treatments. Howard described her ordeal to Dr. Jonathan LaPook in a "60 Minutes" report in 2017.
"I remember thinking something was off, but I didn't feel like I was able to say anything because he was, you know, this very high-profile doctor, and I was very lucky to be at the ranch working with him," Howard told LaPook.
Howard testified to Congress about the abuse and was one of more than 200 women who gave impact statements at Nassar's trial. She said she has read through the newly released report and believes Nassar shouldn't be the only person punished for the traumatic ordeal. Howard wants criminal charges filed against everyone who failed to stop Nassar.
"I want Congress to get involved. I want the DOJ to get involved. I want a special prosecutor. I want agents who were not, maybe not even mentioned in the report, but you cannot tell me that between USA Gymnastics in the U.S. Olympic Committee and in the FBI that it was only these one or two bad players. That's what they've said about Larry, absolutely not true. He's the only one in prison," Howard said.
The FBI released a statement acknowledging the missteps outlined in the report. "The actions and inactions of certain FBI employees described in the report are inexcusable and a discredit to this organization," the bureau said.
This new information comes just days before the summer Olympic Games in Tokyo begin. Howard said as the country prepares to celebrate the hard work of its Olympic athletes, they shouldn't forget the physical, emotional and mental abuse that athletes suffered at the hands of prominent Olympic organizations.
"You know, I just hope that in the middle of all the glory and all the amazing accomplishments and all of the amazing performances you're going to see that these people have been working toward for so many decades of their existence, that that should be celebrated. They should be uplifted," Howard said. "But we cannot forget that to get to that point, so many of them, especially in gymnastics, have suffered severe psychological, emotional, and sexual abuse at the hands of these people. And it wasn't stopped at one point. It was covered up and lied about."