Larry Nassar

AP

Ex-USA Gymnastics doctor’s trial date set

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) A judge has set a Dec. 4 trial date for a former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics doctor accused of molesting several female athletes.

Dr. Larry Nassar of Holt faces 15 first-degree criminal sexual conduct charges in Ingham County. They had been divided into two separate cases, but Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina consolidated them in setting the trial date. She set Dec. 1 as the cutoff for plea negotiations.

Nassar also faces seven first-degree criminal sexual conduct charges in Eaton County. No trial date has been set in that case.

Nassar has pleaded not guilty. His attorney has said Nassar intends to proceed to trial.

He will be sentenced Nov. 27 in federal court in Grand Rapids after pleading guilty on July 11 to three child pornography charges.

Ex-USA Gymnastics doctor to fight child molestation charges

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics doctor pleaded guilty Tuesday to possessing child pornography, admitting he tried to get rid of the evidence last fall while police were investigating allegations that he had sexually assaulted young female athletes.

Dr. Larry Nassar pleaded guilty to three charges in federal court in western Michigan, each of which could land him in prison for up to 20 years.

He is awaiting trial on charges in three separate cases alleging that he sexually molested a total of nine girls, including eight who were gymnasts seeking treatment for injuries. He has pleaded not guilty, and his attorney, Shannon Smith, said Nassar intends to proceed to trial in those cases.

“The plea was negotiated only to resolve the federal charges,” she said, referring to the child porn case.

Investigators in September discovered that Nassar’s hard drives with thousands of illicit images had been thrown in the trash, as women and girls — mostly former gymnasts — were coming forward and saying he had molested them during appointments. Some allegations go back to the 1990s.

Nassar, 53, acknowledged that he dumped the hard drives and paid $49 to have a laptop computer wiped clean to “impede and obstruct” investigators.

As part of the plea deal, the government said it won’t prosecute Nassar for traveling internationally between 2006 and 2013 with the intent of engaging in sexual conduct with minors.

Nassar was a sports medicine specialist at Michigan State, especially in treating gymnasts in the region. He also worked for Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians.

Nassar’s career began to collapse last summer after the Indianapolis Star reported how USA Gymnastics mishandled complaints about sexual misconduct involving the doctor and coaches.

Women and girls said they felt empowered to speak up after the newspaper published stories.

In addition to the three pending criminal cases in Michigan, Nassar is being sued by more than 100 women or girls who have made similar claims against him.

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Ex-USA Gymnastics doctor to stand trial on sex assault charges

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MASON, Mich. (AP) — A judge on Friday ordered a longtime doctor at Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics to stand trial on charges of sexually assaulting six young gymnasts who said he molested them while they were seeking treatment for various injuries.

Judge Donald Allen Jr. made his decision after hearing testimony from the alleged victims over two days and watching a campus police interview of Dr. Larry Nassar.

It is one of four Michigan criminal cases against Nassar following 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.

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

Nassar didn’t testify nor did his lawyers offer an argument against sending the case to trial. The legal threshold in Michigan is probable cause, a low standard at the initial stages of a criminal case.

The final evidence Friday was a video of Nassar’s 40-minute interview last August with a Michigan State police detective, who was investigating a complaint from a former gymnast, now in her 30s. He was not under arrest and spoke voluntarily.

Nassar denied any inappropriate contact and said he got no sexual pleasure from treating gymnasts. He said if he had an erection, as a gymnast claimed, “that’s rather embarrassing.”

The camera was above Nassar’s head. He repeatedly moved his arms and hands as he explained his techniques, using phrases such as “lift and shift” and “tissue tension” to describe treatments for back and hip injuries. He sighed, scratched his forehead and appeared frustrated with the allegations against him.

“I’m trying my best to help the patient. I’m trying to get real-time feedback. I don’t want to hurt someone,” Nassar told Det. Sgt. Andrea Munford.

The judge watched the video and later noted that Nassar had put his fingers in a position that matched the testimony of one of the alleged victims, who said the doctor had penetrated her with his hands in 2000.

“Every victim who testified was unambiguous” about being molested, Poviliatis said. “They were clear and consistent and precise.”

Outside of the criminal cases, Nassar and Michigan State are being sued by dozens of women and girls. Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics also is a defendant in some of the lawsuits.

Nassar will appear in court in Eaton County next Friday on assault charges involving two more gymnasts. He’s separately charged in federal court in Grand Rapids with possessing child pornography.

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