Peters Statement on Department of Justice Inspector General Report on Failures of FBI’s Investigation into Larry Nassar

WASHINGTON, DCU.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) released the following statement after the Department of Justice Inspector General released a report on failures of the FBI’s investigation into allegations regarding Larry Nassar:

“These findings are absolutely appalling and reinforce the systemic failure that allowed a monster to continue inflicting sexual abuse on collegiate and amateur athletes. We must ensure this can never happen again.

“We must take action in Congress and I will keep pushing for passage of my bipartisan legislation that would hold institutions accountable and ensure survivors are protected when they come forward with reports of abuse.”

Earlier this year, Peters led reintroduction of bipartisan, bicameral legislation to hold universities that receive federal funding accountable for sexual abuse cases that threaten the safety of their students. The Accountability of Leaders in Education to Report Title IX Investigations (ALERT) Act would require university leaders to certify they have reviewed any reports of sexual abuses perpetrated by university employees.

Under Title IX, colleges and universities that receive federal funds are required to establish clear procedures for promptly responding to instances of sexual violence on campuses. They must also have a Title IX coordinator in place to oversee investigations, coordinate disciplinary actions, and ensure compliance with federal guidance. However, university leaders previously failed to take action on or even claimed they were unaware of reports of sexual abuse by university employees, such as in the cases of Larry Nassar at Michigan State University and Jerry Sandusky at Pennsylvania State University. Therefore, official Title IX or external investigations as currently constructed have not proven to be sufficient motivators for high-ranking university officials to report the truth.

The ALERT Act would require federally funded colleges and universities to submit an annual certification to the Secretary of Education affirming that the school’s President, or equivalent officer, and at least one other member of the Board of Trustees have reviewed all sexual abuse investigations involving an employee reported to the Title IX coordinator that year. The annual certification would also require confirmation that neither the President, or equivalent officer, or board member had interfered with or inappropriately influenced an ongoing investigation.