Senators Blackburn, Ossoff Launch Bipartisan Inquiry into FBI’s Capacity to Investigate Child Sexual Abuse

September 19, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) are pressing the Department of Justice to strengthen its investigations of child sexual abuse.

Senators Blackburn and Ossoff, Ranking Member and Chairman of the U.S. Senate Human Rights Subcommittee respectively, launched an inquiry with Attorney General Merrick Garland about the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) capacity to investigate and respond to crimes involving child sexual abuse and exploitation.

In a June 2023 report to Congress, the Department of Justice (DOJ) cited an international threat assessment demonstrating that “the growth in online child sexual exploitation is outpacing our ability to respond.”

Our offices have recently received reports of chronic understaffing among the FBI field office teams responsible for processing and investigating allegations of child sexual abuse,” Senators Blackburn and Ossoff wrote to AG Garland. These shortages reportedly force staff to manage heavy caseloads, allowing them insufficient time and resources to thoroughly investigate and respond to the numerous cases that come before them. Understaffing has, according to these reports, hindered the ability of FBI field office teams to refer cases to the appropriate state or local law enforcement agencies for further investigation.”

Senators Blackburn and Ossoff’s inquiry also cites fallout from the Larry Nassar case, in which interviews conducted by DOJ’s Office of the Inspector General suggested that field agents’ heavy workload may have contributed to the FBI’s failures to investigate Nassar’s sexual abuse.

In June, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee passed the senators’ bipartisan bill to protect children from online sexual abuse and exploitation.

In July, the senators also called on Attorney General Merrick Garland and the DOJ to increase resources needed to prosecute cases involving the creation of child sex abuse material (CSAM) through artificial intelligence technology.

Click here to read Senators Blackburn and Ossoff’s inquiry to the DOJ.