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Police: 81 people accuse ex-USA Gymnastics doctor of sexual assault

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan sports doctor who treated elite female U.S. gymnasts was charged Wednesday with sexually assaulting nine girls, including some too reluctant to speak up about the alleged abuse years ago because he was considered a “god.”

In the last six months, 81 people have claimed to be victims of sexual assault by ex-USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, according to the Michigan State University Police Department.

Roughly two dozen charges were filed Wednesday against Nassar, the first criminal cases related to his work at Michigan State University where he was the preferred doctor for gymnasts in the region who had back or hip injuries.

He’s also being sued by dozens of women and girls, including 2000 Olympian Jamie Dantzscher, who described the assaults on “60 Minutes” Sunday.

“This guy is disgusting. This guy is despicable,” Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette told reporters. “He is a monster.”

Nassar, 53, was a doctor for Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics, until summer 2015, accompanying the women’s team at international competitions, including the Olympics. Michigan State fired him last September after he violated restrictions that were put in place in 2014 following a complaint.

Nassar’s attorneys declined to comment Wednesday. He has denied abuse, and, in an email last fall to his Michigan State bosses, said, “I will overcome this.”

The charges were filed in two cases: one in Ingham County, the home of Michigan State, and the other nearby in Eaton County, where Nassar saw injured girls at Gedderts’ Twistars Club, a gymnastics club.

He’s accused of sticking his fingers in their vaginas, without gloves, during treatments for various injuries. Parents were asked to leave the room or Nassar used a sheet or stood in a position to block any view, police said. Two girls were under age 13, and seven were 13 to 16.

“Dr. Nassar used his status and authority to engage in horrid sexual assaults under the guise of medical procedures,” Schuette said.

A girl identified as Victim B, now 21, said she was sexually assaulted by Nassar “`more times than she could count,”‘ Det. Sgt. Andrea Munford wrote in an affidavit.

“Victim B stated that she and all the gymnasts trusted Nassar and that he was like a god to the gymnasts. … Because it was happening to all of them, they thought it was normal,” Munford said.

Munford said Nassar sometimes gave gifts to girls to keep their confidence, including leotards and pins from the Olympics. One victim quoted Nassar as saying, “We don’t tell parents about this because they wouldn’t understand,” a reference to vaginal penetration.

Schuette said more charges are coming. Michigan State University Police Chief James Dunlap said he has more than a dozen people working on the Nassar investigation.

Nassar suddenly came under intense scrutiny last summer when former gymnasts accused him of abuse, following an August report in the Indianapolis Star about how USA Gymnastics handled sexual abuse complaints against coaches and others.

Lawyers suing Michigan State on behalf of victims have accused the university of failing to do more to prevent Nassar’s alleged acts. In court filings, gymnastics coach Kathie Klages is accused of downplaying complaints about him in the late 1990s. She suddenly quit last week, a day after she was suspended for defending him in front of her team.

Michigan State is conducting an internal investigation of Nassar’s work.

“I am deeply troubled by the emerging details and recognize the courage it takes to come forward with information about personally traumatic events,” President Lou Anna Simon said Wednesday.

Besides the new criminal cases, Nassar faces charges in two cases that were filed in 2016 and are unrelated to his work as a doctor. He’s accused of possessing child pornography and molesting the daughter of family friends. He remains in jail without bond.

Dantzscher spoke to “60 Minutes” about her experiences with Nassar.

“He would put his fingers inside of me, move my leg around,” she “He would tell me I was going to feel a pop and that that would put my hips back and help my back pain.”

USA Hockey to start reaching out to potential replacement players

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USA Hockey will begin reaching out to “alternate players” to determine their interest in playing for the U.S. at the women’s world championship next week amid a potential boycott by its national team.

The contact is taking place in the event a resolution cannot be reached between USA Hockey and the women’s national team in a wage dispute.

“It’s important for everyone to understand clearly that our objective is to have the players we named as the U.S. women’s national team be the ones that compete in the world championship,” said Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey, in a statement. “Productive conversations have taken place this week and are ongoing in our collective efforts to reach a resolution.”

The alternate players are in the professional NWHL and college, according to USA Today, a report that USA Hockey would not confirm.

U.S. captain Meghan Duggan has said every player in the U.S. national team player pool, plus under-18 national team players, committed to not playing at worlds unless the wage dispute is resolved.

“We are confident that they [potential replacement players] would choose not to play,” the U.S. players said in a statement.

The world championship tournament starts March 31 in Plymouth, Mich.

As of Thursday evening, no resolution has come between USA Hockey and its women’s national team. They met formally on Monday for more than 10 hours, with both sides calling it productive.

“We ask that they approve the original agreement that, the players believed, was acceptable to both parties after Monday’s meeting,” the players said in a statement. “Unless there is an agreement, the players remain resolved to bypass the defense of the world championship.”

Neither side has said when the next meeting will take place.

On Tuesday, USA Hockey said it postponed a pre-worlds camp that was to run through next Tuesday in Traverse City, Mich., and canceled a scheduled Friday exhibition against Finland.

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MORE: NHL asked for decision on Olympics by end of April

NHL asked for decision on Olympics by end of April

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International Ice Hockey Federation President Rene Fasel tells The Associated Press he needs to know by the end of April whether NHL players will be cleared to play in the South Korea Olympics next year.

NHL team owners have made it clear they don’t want to stop their season again for the Winter Games and put their stars at risk of injury. The reluctance has come up before and yet the NHL has participated in the Olympics since 1998. This time, however, there seems to be an impasse.

The head of the NHL Players Association, Donald Fehr, says the players want to participate and hopes the league will take advantage of the chance to market the game in Asia.

However, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly says without “material change to the current status quo, NHL players will not be participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics.”

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MORE: 2018 Olympic hockey groups set