Ex-USA Gymnastics Doctor Pleads Guilty to Seven Counts of Criminal Misconduct
Larry Nassar, the former team doctor of USA Gymnastics and the Michigan State University gymnastics women’s crew teams physician pleaded guilty in a Michigan Courtroom to seven counts of criminal misconduct using his position to sexually abuse young girls.
In addition to his affiliation with USA Gymnastics, Nassar was also an associate professor at MSU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine.
In all, 125 victims reported assaults to Michigan State Police leading to the charges and guilty plea on seven counts in which three of the charges involved victims under the age of 13 and three applied to victims who were 13 to 15 years old. Other charges were dismissed or reduced as part of the plea agreement. A sentencing hearing will be held Jan. 12, 2018 at 9 a.m. EST. The plea deal calls for a minimum prison sentence of 25 years. The judge could set the minimum as high as 40 years sentence.
Nassar, speaking to the court said, “For all those involved, I’m so horribly sorry that this was like a match that turned into a forest fire out of control. I have no animosity toward anyone. I just want healing. We need to move forward in a sense of growth and healing and I pray that.”
In news reports Wednesday, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina said Nassar violated the trust of his patients. She praised victims for coming forward and spoke directly to Nassar saying, “You used that position of trust that you had in the most vile way to abuse children. I agree that now is a time of healing, but it may take them a lifetime of healing while you spend your lifetime behind bars thinking about what you did in taking away their childhood. You violated the oath that you took, which is to do no harm, and you harmed them selfishly. … They are superheroes for all of America because this is an epidemic.”
Nass hard been charged with 22 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and 11 counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct at the state level with several of the charges applying to victims under the age of 13. Nassar is also awaiting sentence on federal charges of receiving child pornography, possessing child pornography and charges of tampering with evidence. That hearing will begin Monday, Nov. 27.
USA Gymnastics issued a statement on its page that reads: USA Gymnastics is very sorry that any athlete was harmed by Larry Nassar. Upon first learning of athlete concerns about Nassar in 2015, USA Gymnastics reported him to the FBI and relieved him of any involvement with USA Gymnastics. Federal and state authorities ultimately charged Nassar with multiple crimes, leading to his incarceration and now his admission of guilt to charges of criminal sexual conduct. We note that affected women contacted by Michigan prosecutors supported resolution by plea, and USA Gymnastics also views Nassar’s guilty plea as an important acknowledgement of his appalling and devious conduct that permits punishment without further victimization of survivors.”
In June, USA Gymnastics adopted reforms that it said will help prevent and deal with cases of abuse. Members are now required to report suspected sexual misconduct and any adults who are removed from membership are tracked in a database.
A civil lawsuit filed by the 125 women and girls will now move forward.