Larry Nassar, USA Gymnastics Doctor, Sentenced to 60 Years on Child Porn Charges
By Will Hobson
December 7, 2017
|Dr. Larry Nassar, 54, appears in court for a plea hearing Nov. 22. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)|
A judge sentenced Larry Nassar, the former Olympic gymnastics team physician and longtime Michigan State University instructor, to 60 years in prison on Thursday for federal child pornography crimes. The sentence, handed down by a judge in Grand Rapids, Mich., ensures that Nassar, 54, likely will spend the rest of his life in prison.
Nassar, accused in civil and criminal complaints of sexually assaulting more than 140 women, also has pleaded guilty to several sex crimes in two counties in Michigan, and will be sentenced for those charges in separate hearings in state courts next month. The judge Thursday ordered Nassar to serve his federal sentence — 20 years each for three counts — consecutively to state sentences, seemingly foreclosing any possibility he obtains an early release.
Olympians McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas are among those who have said Nassar assaulted them.
“He abused my trust, he abused my body and he left scars on my psyche that may never go away … He needs to be behind bars so he will never prey upon another child,” Maroney wrote in a statement to the judge before Thursday’s hearing.
Once one of the most respected sports physicians in the country specializing in treating gymnasts, Nassar’s swift downfall started last August, when a woman filed a police report alleging Nassar had assaulted her during a medical examination years prior, when she was a 15-year-old gymnast in Michigan seeking treatment for back pain.
The woman — Rachael Denhollander, 32, of Louisville — then told her story to the Indianapolis Star, prompting dozens of women, including several former Team USA gymnasts, to come forward with similar allegations. Women accused Nassar of assaulting them at a campus clinic at Michigan State, at local gyms across the country, at the Karolyi Ranch outside Houston, and at international competitions around the globe, including the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, and the 2012 Summer Games in London.
Michigan State fired Nassar last September. Michigan authorities arrested him last November, and in December, federal authorities added child pornography charges.
While the criminal penalties for Nassar will be decided over the next few weeks, the fallout for the organizations that employed him, or allowed him to volunteer his services and work with children, may have just begun.
More than 100 civil claims are pending against Michigan State and USA Gymnastics. Earlier this year, Steve Penny resigned as chief executive of USA Gymnastics after acknowledging he had waited five weeks to report Nassar to law enforcement in 2015, and Michigan State gymnastics coach Kathie Klages retired after the university suspended her for defending Nassar in a private meeting with her gymnasts.
In lawsuits, two gymnasts have alleged they complained to Klages in 1997 about Nassar’s treatment, to no avail. Klages has denied those claims. There were also police investigations in 2004 and 2014 that didn’t result in charges, and a Michigan State Title IX office inquiry in 2014 that concluded a student had misinterpreted legitimate pain treatment. After the 2014 inquiry, Nassar’s supervisors required him to wear gloves and never perform the therapy that had upset that student without another person in the room, conditions Nassar later acknowledged he violated.
Michigan State has commissioned an internal review of how university employees responded to suspicions about Nassar, but had planned to keep that review confidential, drawing criticism from victims and their attorneys. On Monday, Michigan’s Attorney General formally asked Michigan State to turn over the findings of its internal review.
“We recognize the pain sexual violence causes and deeply regret any time someone in our community experiences it,” Michigan State spokesman Jason Cody said. “Nassar’s behavior was deeply disturbing and repugnant, as the state and federal criminal charges that he has been convicted of show.”