Portland’s FBI field office is mentioned in a U.S. Department of Justice report critical of the bureau’s handling of an investigation into sexual abuse by a former doctor for the USA Gymnastics team and dozens of other athletes.

Doctor-Sexual Assault FBI

Larry Nassar, a former doctor for USA Gymnastics and member of Michigan State’s sports medicine staff, sits in court during his sentencing hearing in Lansing, Mich., in 2018. Carlos Osorio/Associated Press, file

The FBI office in Indianapolis – where USA Gymnastics is headquartered – was alerted to the allegations against Dr. Larry Nassar in mid-2015, but the Justice Department report said little investigating was actually done for more than a year. In September 2016, Nassar’s home was searched by the campus police of Michigan State University, where Nassar was a doctor, and investigators found thousands of images of child pornography, leading to federal charges. But Nassar’s conviction for sexually abusing dozens of girls occurred in Michigan state court.

Portland’s involvement in the Nassar case came about six months after the FBI was told of the allegations. A local lawyer representing Olympic gymnast Alexandra “Aly” Raisman, who lives in Massachusetts, called the Maine office and asked an agent to confirm that the bureau was investigating the allegations.

The Portland FBI office checked with officials in Indianapolis, but told lawyer Harold Pachios a week later that it could not confirm an investigation, according to the report by the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General.

The FBI then said it would interview Raisman. Pachios agreed to allow an interview with his client, but only if he were allowed to be present. The Portland FBI office wouldn’t agree to that, so the interview never happened, the Justice Department report said.

Pachios got involved at the request of Peter Carlisle, a sports agent based in South Portland who has represented Raisman for a decade. Carlisle runs the Olympic division for Octagon Olympics & Action Sports. Other clients include Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps and gymnast Simone Biles.

Raisman won six medals, three of them gold, at the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games.

She was one of the gymnasts to publicly accuse Nassar of sexual abuse and has since been outspoken about the case and critical of how it was handled by gymnastics officials. Raisman has a lawsuit pending against USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee, saying they should have known about the abuse sooner and taken action to stop it.

The Justice Department report suggests that dozens of other girls were abused by Nassar after the initial allegations were made and while the FBI investigation dragged on. It says the supervisor of the case didn’t follow proper procedures and noted that one agent in the Indianapolis FBI office, who has since retired, was trying to get a job with the gymnastics organization while the case was still being handled by that office.

All that led to inaction on the investigation, the Justice Department report said, and Pachios said it was apparent to those trying to follow developments from the outside.

He called his interactions with the FBI “one of the most frustrating things I’ve ever experienced.”

“The FBI appeared to have buried it,” Pachios said. “We were just desperate for law enforcement to do something, and nothing was being done.”

Eventually, USA Gymnastics contacted the Los Angeles FBI office, which opened a more aggressive investigation of the allegations. Pachios praised the investigation by the FBI in L.A., but the Department of Justice said that office, too, made errors, largely by not notifying local police – in Texas, where the organization had training facilities, and in Michigan – of the allegations.

Carlisle said Raisman and her mother were concerned about the investigation from the outset.

“The way the USAG handled it initially didn’t seem right,” he said, and Raisman’s mother had to push to get the organization to contact the FBI with the allegations.

Despite the passage of six years and the Justice Department report on the FBI’s handling of the case, Carlisle said, no one is really clear on what was done and why.

“It never really made a lot of sense,” he said. “It’s extremely frustrating to Aly.”

Carlisle said the investigation should have shed light on problems and led to corrections, but “that still hasn’t happened with USAG.”

Nassar pleaded guilty to receiving and attempting to receive child pornography in July 2017 and was sentenced to 60 years in federal prison.

He pleaded guilty in November 2017 to seven counts of criminal sexual conduct in Michigan state court and was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in state prison. Three months later, he pleaded guilty to three additional counts of criminal sexual conduct and was sentenced to an additional 40 to 125 years in prison.

Filings in the state court cases indicated that there were 115 victims.

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