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USA Gymnastics Doctor Pleads Guilty to More Charges

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Copyright 2017 The Salt Lake Tribune
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The Salt Lake Tribune

For the second time in two weeks, former Olympic gymnastics team physician Larry Nassar pleaded guilty Wednesday to sexually assaulting young girls under the guise of medical treatment.

In a plea agreement with the Michigan Attorney General's Office, Nassar admitted guilt to three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, one involving a girl under the age of 13. The 54-year-old father of three faces at least a 25-year prison sentence.

Wednesday's plea involved crimes in Eaton County, near the campus of Michigan State University, where Nassar worked from 1997 until last September. Last week, Nassar pleaded guilty to seven counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct in Ingham County, where Michigan State is located. In July, Nasssar pleaded guilty to three federal child pornography charges. His sentencing hearing for the federal charges is scheduled for next Thursday, while he will be sentenced for his state crimes in separate hearings scheduled for Jan. 12 and Jan. 31.

More than 130 women have come forward, in criminal complaints and lawsuits, alleging Nassar assaulted them during what he previously described as legitimate medical procedures. Several Olympic gymnasts are among those alleging assault by Nassar, including McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas.

An osteopathic physician with a specialty in sports medicine, particularly gymnastics, Nassar worked full-time at Michigan State's school of osteopathic medicine and treated young athletes at a campus clinic. He also volunteered his services for USA Gymnastics, and treated Team USA women's gymnasts at the Karolyi family ranch outside Houston and at competitions around the globe.

"I'm very satisified. The Attorney General did a phenomenal job making sure that every victim, even the ones who didn't have crimes charged, felt that justice was done," said Rachael Denhollander, 32, a Louisville woman who came forward last year and filed a police complaint after she realized treatment Nassar had provided her when she was a 15-year-old was not legitimate pain therapy. Denhollander's complaint, and subsequent interview with the Indianapolis Star, prompted Nassar's arrest, and similar allegations from dozens of women.

Denhollander, who has filed suit against Michigan State, voiced strong criticism of the university, which has commissioned an internal review into how Michigan State employees responded to suspicions about Nassar but has said it does not plan to make the review public. Women have come forward alleging they complained about Nassar's treatment as far back as 1997, and in 2014, the university's Title IX office investigated a complaint but concluded Nassar had not assaulted the woman.

"Complaints went up the chain of command, and no one knows how far because MSU won't tell," Denhollander said. "Had they taken those abuse reports seriously, the vast majority of these victims wouldn't be here today."

Michigan State spokesman Jason Cody, in an email, said the university never intended to make any internal review regarding Nassar's crimes public. The FBI and Michigan State police jointly investigated this year, Cody said, to determine if any university employees committed crimes in their handling of complaints about Nassar.

"We have no reason to believe that any criminal conduct was found," Cody wrote. "Michigan State University continues to be shocked and appalled by Larry Nassar's now-admitted criminal conduct."

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November 30, 2017
 
 
 

 

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