On July 14, the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report documenting the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) mishandling of its investigation into the sexual abuse allegations against former USA gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. Following the report’s publication, Rolling Stone interviewed FBI whistleblower and Whistleblower Network News (WNN) columnist Jane Turner about the FBI’s history of mishandling child sex abuse cases.
The OIG report states that the FBI failed to respond to the allegations against Nassar “with the utmost seriousness and urgency that the allegations deserved and required, made numerous and fundamental errors when they did respond to them, and failed to notify state or local authorities of the allegations or take other steps to mitigate the ongoing threat posed by Nassar.”
Turner was a highly decorated, 25-year veteran Special Agent with the FBI who led the agency’s highly successful programs combating crimes against women and child sex crime victims on North Dakota Indian Reservations. However, she was removed from her senior position in retaliation for blowing the whistle on failures within the FBI’s child crime program.
Turner talked to Rolling Stone about her experiences blowing the whistle at the FBI and explained how the Nassar investigation is part of a pattern of shortcomings in the FBI’s treatment of child sex abuse cases. She also provided her assessment of why the FBI continually fails in investigations into those matters.
The article details some of the FBI’s shortcomings that Turner exposed, including a case where FBI agents “did not take a pedophile’s work computer into evidence because he told them he didn’t look at child porn at work.” According to the article, “Turner says she reported these failures up her chain of command but got nowhere. ‘I said, we cannot allow this to happen,’ she says, recalling one conversation with a higher-up. ‘I was just doing my job as far as I saw. His response was, ‘You have your own kid to worry about.’’”
Turner offered a number of explanations for the continued pattern of the FBI failing to properly investigate child sex abuse cases. She points to a lack of training in handling these cases as well as the lack of diversity in the agency and a resulting toxic culture. She explains that most agents are not well trained in interviewing children and are therefore more willing to take parents’ or doctors’ words over the child’s word.
She also explains that the overwhelmingly white and male staff would rather be working more “glamorous” assignments. “They don’t give a shit about kids or young people… They’re just not that proficient in sex abuse. They can do the pornography, that kind of thing, but for really getting into it….It’s not high on their list of give-a-shits,” she told Rolling Stone.
Turner will serve as the mistress of ceremonies at the National Whistleblower Center’s upcoming National Whistleblower Day 2021 celebration. The event will span three days, from July 28 to July 30, and will highlight intriguing whistleblower stories, useful resources, and high-profile speakers such as SEC Chairman Gary Gensler, DOL Secretary Marty Walsh, and Senator Charles Grassley. The celebration will feature a panel on “How Whistleblowers Changed the FBI” — RSVP for the event here.