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Justice Department makes changes in wake of blunders investigating sexual abuse of gymnasts

By Evan Perez, CNN Justice Correspondent

The Justice Department is making changes to improve the way federal agents and prosecutors deal with crime victims and witnesses and to better coordinate with state authorities in the wake of serious errors uncovered in the FBI’s handling of sexual abuse allegations against former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco on Friday announced the department will revise its internal policy manual to ensure prosecutors and investigators are trained on how to assist crime victims and witnesses in line with federal laws. She also issued a memo to US attorneys and department lawyers to better coordinate with state law enforcement agencies in cases where federal charges appear unlikely.

Both issues that Monaco tackled in her Friday memos were ones identified as shortcomings in the department’s handling of the Nassar investigation.

Nassar, 58, is serving a 40-to-174-year state prison sentence after 156 women and girls said he sexually abused them over the course of 20 years.

But a Justice Department inspector general report found gross failures on the part of the FBI to properly investigate complaints from gymnasts, who told the bureau in 2015 about the abuse.

From July 2015, when USA Gymnastics officials first notified the FBI about abuse allegations against Nassar, and September 2016, when the FBI finally began to take meaningful investigative steps, at least 70 athletes were abused by Nassar, the inspector general reported.

In Senate testimony last month, some of the women who were abused by Nassar criticized the Justice Department for not doing more to punish the FBI agents who failed to do their jobs.

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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