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Ex-USA Gymnastics Doc Sentenced to 60 Years in Prison

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Larry Nassar, the former Michigan State and USA Gymnastics doctor whose work took him to multiple Olympic Games, was sentenced Thursday to 60 years in federal prison on child pornography charges to which he's admitted.

"He has demonstrated that he should never again have access to children," U.S. District Judge Janet Neff said as she imposed a sentence that went beyond guidelines calling for 22 to 27 years in prison.

He was sentenced to 20 years on each of three counts, to be served consecutively. Neff said his federal time would be served consecutive to his state sentences for sexual assault. He has pleaded guilty to 10 sexual assault charges and will be sentenced next month.

The courtroom was filled to capacity, including several victims of his admitted sexual assault. Several victims said they were still trying to process their feelings after the effective life sentence Neff imposed, but it was a step toward justice.

"I was blown away with what the judge did today, and I thought it was very fitting," Larissa Boyce, who had first raised concerns about Nassar to an MSU coach in 1997, said at a news conference.

In court filings last week, Nassar's attorneys had asked Neff to show leniency, saying the doctor had worked toward redemption by helping fellow inmates and taking Bible classes since his arrest nearly a year ago.

Nassar told Neff on Thursday he'd long battled an addiction. His shame kept him from asking for help, he said.

"You go back and you wonder how I got down this path to begin with," he said. "I really did try to be a good person. I really did try to help people. ... I hope one day I can be forgiven, and I'm going to take every day of your sentence to try to better myself."

But Neff said Nassar's crimes hurt so many people on so many levels, from the unnamed children in the pictures who feel assaulted every day knowing someone could be viewing their bodies, to the women Nassar assaulted who now struggle to trust doctors and with their own sense of self-worth. The judge said she'd sentenced defendants in child pornography cases for a decade but Nassar was "unique" in the sheer volume of pornography he'd collected and the brazen way he assaulted women during medical appointments with parents in the room.

"You have to wonder whether he felt he was omnipotent, whether he felt he was getting away with something so cleverly," Neff said. "I am a mom of two daughters. I cannot imagine that kind of situation."

Thursday's sentencing ends one of three criminal cases against Nassar. He has also pleaded guilty to sexual assault charges in Ingham and Eaton counties and could be sentenced to up to life in prison in those cases.

In still-pending lawsuits, more than 140 women or girls have said Nassar assaulted them, often during medical appointments.

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December 8, 2017
 
 
 

 

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