Former USA gymnastics doc charged with sexually assaulting girls

A Michigan sports doctor who treated elite female U.S. gymnasts was charged Wednesday with sexually assaulting several girls, including some too reluctant to speak up about the alleged abuse years ago because he was considered a "god."

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette charged former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University physician Lawrence G. Nassar with 22 additional counts of Criminal Sexual Conduct First Degree, a felony punishable by up to life in prison for each charge.

The charges filed today are a result of Nassar, 53, of Holt, allegedly sexually abusing young female athletes under the guise of medical treatment in both his home treatment room and in medical settings, including at the MSU Sports Medicine Clinic and Twistars Gymnastics Club.

Five of the charges are related to the victims being under the age of 13 at the time of the alleged assault. The remaining 17 are a result of Nassar taking advantage of his position of authority to commit the alleged sexual assaults.

“Dr. Nassar preyed on these young girls, he used his status and authority to engage in horrid sexual assaults under the guise of medical procedures. He violated the oath that every doctor takes to do no harm,” said Schuette. “The girls abused by Dr. Nassar were so young, so innocent that they didn’t fully understand what Nassar was doing to them until many years later.  We have a duty to protect our children, and that’s what we are doing today.”

Schuette’s office is the prosecuting agency, with the Michigan State University Police Department conducting the investigation.

“The allegations of sexual assault against Dr. Nassar continue to increase nearly every day, and we remain constantly in contact with the victims as we move forward,” said Michigan State University Police Chief Jim Dunlap. “Our priority is getting justice for the survivors and we are determined to make certain that occurs. I encourage anyone who may have been a victim of Larry Nassar to come forward by contacting the MSU Police Department.”

“I would like to thank the Michigan State University Police Department for their hard work on the investigation of the sexual assaults allegedly committed by Mr. Nassar,” Schuette added. “The professionalism shown by Chief Dunlap and Det. Sgt. Munford is exactly what the victims in this case need to ensure their stories are told.”

Charges in Two Counties

The charges were filed in Ingham County’s 55th District Court and Eaton County’s 56A District Court and include:

5 Counts of Criminal Sexual Conduct, 1st Degree (Felony, 25-year mandatory minimum, up to life in   prison): Sexual penetration of another person under the following circumstance: victim is under the age of 13.

17 Counts of Criminal Sexual Conduct, 1st Degree (Felony, life offense): Sexual penetration of a victim between the ages of 13-16 and the alleged assailant is in a position of authority over the victim and used this authority to coerce the victim to submit; or when the actor causes personal injury to the victim and engages in the medical treatment or examination of the victim in a manner or for purposes that are medically recognized as unethical or unacceptable.

Nassar will be arraigned on Thursday, February 23 at the 55th District Court at 10:00 a.m. and via video arraignment for 56A District Court at 1:00 p.m.

Case Background

The first publicized abuse allegations against Nassar were made in September 2016 by two former gymnasts in an Indianapolis newspaper. MSU Police Department received its first complaint against Nassar in August 2016.

Following the published news story the MSU Police received multiple other complaints alleging abuse by Nassar.  In October 2016, the MSU Police Chief James Dunlap brought forward a recommendation for charges to the Michigan Attorney General’s office.

The Michigan Licensing and Regulatory Agency has suspended Nassar’s medical license as of January 2017.

Previous Charges for Nassar

Schuette’s initial round of charges for Nassar took place in November of 2016 and were not related to a child involved in athletics. Nassar had a preliminary exam for these charges on February 17, 2017, where Judge Donald Allen bound the case over to Circuit Court for trial.

Nassar was charged by the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan on December 19, 2016 for possession of child pornography. The allegations in the federal indictment state that Nassar received and attempted to receive child pornography in 2004, and that he possessed thousands of images of child pornography between February of 2003 and September of 2016. If convicted of both of these charges, Nassar faces a mandatory minimum of five years’ imprisonment and up to 40 years of imprisonment, and up to lifetime supervised release after release from custody.  Nassar also faces federal charges of destruction of evidence after it was alleged that he attempted to destroy the hard drive on which he was storing the pornographic images of children.

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