Oscar Pistorius trial postponed until August

1 Comment

South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius was in back court Tuesday for his first appearance since being granted bail Feb. 22 following the shooting of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine’s Day. But the hearing was short-lived and quickly postponed, with a new date now set for Aug. 19.

The hearing lasted only 15 minutes while the prosecution asked for the trial to be postponed, and then a court official criticized the “trial by media” that included a recent British TV special during which Steenkamp’s mother, June, brought Pistorius’s character into question and asked for answers about her daughter’s tragic death.

“Why? Why did he shoot her? I want to know why he shot her,” she said. “Because she must have been so afraid in the toilet, and somebody’s firing a gun, bullets through the door.”

Pistorius, 26, admitted to shooting Steenkamp three times through his bathroom door on February 14, but claims he thought she was an intruder, and only after he fired did he considered it might have been Steenkamp. He then called paramedics and carried her downstairs, where she died in his arms.

The defense agreed on the terms of postponement, which weren’t immediately made public. Pistorius has rarely been seen in public since February and has already ruled out competitive running in 2013.

Ex-USA Gymnastics doctor pleads guilty to sexual assault

AP
Leave a comment

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A sports doctor accused of molesting girls while working for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University pleaded guilty Wednesday to multiple charges of sexual assault and will face at least 25 years in prison.

Larry Nassar, 54, was charged with molesting seven girls, mostly under the guise of treatment at his Lansing-area home and a campus clinic.

All but one of his accusers was a gymnast. He faces similar charges in a neighboring county and lawsuits filed by more than 125 women and girls.

Olympic gymnasts Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Gabby Douglas are among the women who have publicly said they were among Nassar’s victims.

Some of his accusers attended the hearing Wednesday in a packed Ingham County courtroom.

The plea deal in Ingham County calls for a minimum prison sentence of 25 years, but a judge could set the minimum sentence as high as 40 years. In Michigan, inmates are eligible for parole after serving a minimum sentence.

Sentencing was set for Jan. 12.

The girls have testified that Nassar molested them with his hands, sometimes when a parent was present in the room, while they sought help for gymnastics injuries.

“He convinced these girls that this was some type of legitimate treatment,” Assistant Attorney General Angela Poviliatis told a judge last summer. “Why would they question him? Why would they question this gymnastics god?”

Separately, Nassar is charged with similar crimes in Eaton County, the location of an elite gymnastics club. He also is awaiting sentencing in federal court on child pornography charges.

The Michigan criminal cases against Nassar followed reports last year in the Indianapolis Star about how USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians, mishandled complaints about sexual misconduct involving the doctor and coaches.

Women and girls said the stories inspired them to step forward with detailed allegations of abuse, sometimes when their parents were in the exam room at Michigan State.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Aly Raisman in book: ‘Horrible memories’ with Larry Nassar

Indian police probe Maria Sharapova housing fraud case

AP
Leave a comment

NEW DELHI (AP) — Maria Sharapova is being investigated by police in India in a cheating and criminal conspiracy case involving a real estate company who used the tennis star to endorse a luxury housing project that never took off.

Real estate firm Homestead Infrastructure is accused of taking tens of millions of rupees (millions of dollars) from home buyers for a project named “Ballet by Maria Sharapova,” a luxury apartment complex with its own helipad, tennis academy and other amenities.

The five-time Grand Slam champion and Olympic silver medalist traveled to India in 2013 to launch the project at a glitzy ceremony. Police began the investigation on Nov. 16.

Piyush Singh, a lawyer representing one of the home buyers, said Wednesday that Sharapova’s celebrity was the reason most people put their money into the project.

Singh said his client, Bhawana Agarwal, paid Homestead Infrastructure 5.3 million rupees ($81,678) in 2013 because she was impressed by Sharapova’s association with the project located in Gurgaon, a suburb of the Indian capital. The cost of an apartment in the swanky project was 20 million rupees ($308,000).

Agarwal then spent the next three years chasing the builders for updates on the property and her investment in it but they stopped taking her calls, Singh said. On Wednesday, several calls to the numbers of the building company’s website went unanswered.

“The project never saw the light of day,” Singh said.

Singh said the police investigation based on his client’s complaint was testing relatively new legal ground – that celebrities endorsing projects that draw vast sums of money from investors had a responsibility “to do some due diligence” on the project before lending their name and credibility to it.

Sharapova isn’t the only international sports celebrity that the real estate firm roped in. Its website also advertises a project with Formula One great Michael Schumacher called the Michael Schumacher World Tower.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Sharapova not fully committed to 2020 Olympic run