CHICAGO -- Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco says federal authorities are now investigating whether FBI officials should face charges for the way they handled sex abuse complaints against disgraced Olympic doctor and sexual abuser Dr. Larry Nassar. Monaco's revelation Tuesday came during questioning by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee who had Monaco on the Capitol Hill hot seat.
"The criminal division is currently reviewing this matter, including new information that has come to light," Monaco told the committee.
Six years after the FBI in Indianapolis took the first, very graphic and detailed complaint from a top US gymnast and did nothing about it, those FBI agents could potentially face discipline or criminal charges as a result of this new review. The review announcement comes three weeks after American gymnasts told Sen. Dick Durbin's Judiciary Committee one horror story after another about long time Olympic team doctor Larry Nassar who sexually assaulted hundreds of young athletes during decades of abuse.
"I might ask you this. Is there any sense of urgency or timetable to this new criminal review about the wrongdoing by the FBI agents?" Senator Durbin asked.
"We take exceptionally seriously our duty to protect victims. And yes, I think you can be assured there is a sense of urgency and gravity with the work that needs to be done," Monaco replied.
The current urgency comes weeks after that initial hearing-when no one from the justice department showed up, and months after an inspector general's report alleged FBI carelessness and misconduct., all of which today drew bi-partisan criticism.
"When you're talking about a six year delay between the time that the outcry of these victims of sexual assault has made, and six year delay between them, and now it's pretty hard to understand or to believe that there is any sense of urgency or gravity on the part of the Department of Justice," said Texas Senator John Cornyn.
One FBI agent has already been fired and the head of the Indianapolis FBI office is now retired. He was singled out by the inspector general as having lied during an official review of how the case and has not responded to the allegation. Nasser was eventually charged and convicted and is now serving a 175 year sentence for sexually abusing mostly teenage athletes-though one says she was just six years old when it first happened.