USA Gymnastics

AP

Larry Nassar, ex-USA Gymnastics doctor, gets 60 years in prison

2 Comments

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A former elite sports doctor whose sexual assault cases have rocked Michigan State University and the group that trains U.S. Olympic gymnasts was sentenced Thursday to 60 years in federal prison for possessing thousands of images of child pornography.

It’s the first of three prison sentences for Larry Nassar, who will learn his punishment in state court in January after pleading guilty to using his hands to molest girls at his campus office, his home and at a gymnastics club near Lansing, sometimes with parents in the room.

Separately, more than 100 women and girls are suing Nassar. Michigan State and USA Gymnastics also are defendants in many cases.

Nassar told U.S. District Judge Janet Neff that he has an addiction.

MORE: Aly Raisman shares testimony letter | McKayla Maroney’s letter

“You go back and you wonder how I got down this path to begin with,” he said. “I really did try to be a good person. … I hope one day I can be forgiven, and I’m going to take every day of your sentence to try to better myself.”

Neff followed the government’s recommended sentence, saying Nassar “should never again have access to children.”

She said the federal sentence won’t start until he completes his sentences for sexual assault, which effectively means the 54-year-old won’t be free again. Nassar faces at least 25 years in prison in the other cases.

Olympians Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney, Gabby Douglas and Jamie Dantzscher said they were victims when Nassar worked for USA Gymnastics and accompanied them to workouts or international events.

Maroney was in the courtroom Thursday.

Nassar is a “monster” who “left scars on my psyche that may never go away,” she said in a letter to the judge.

The child porn was discovered last year. Nassar acknowledged that he dumped computer hard drives and paid $49 to have a laptop’s memory wiped clean to try to outfox police. The hard drives were found by investigators because the trash truck on his street was late.

In a statement, Michigan State said the 60-year sentence “represents another important step toward justice for the victims.” But victims and lawyers have been deeply critical of the school, claiming campus officials failed to recognize years ago that Nassar was a threat.

John Manly, an attorney representing many women and girls in lawsuits, said negotiations with Michigan State and a mediator failed to lead to an agreement this week. Michigan State declined to comment.

“We intend to fight for justice for the victims,” Manly said.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: USA Gymnastics hires Kerry Perry after sex abuse scandal

Feds seek 60-year prison sentence for ex-USA Gymnastics doctor

AP
Leave a comment

DETROIT (AP) — Federal prosecutors on Thursday asked for a 60-year prison sentence for a Michigan sports doctor who was caught with child pornography while under investigation for sexually assaulting female gymnasts.

Larry Nassar, 54, who worked at Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics, will be sentenced for child porn crimes on Dec. 7. In the last week, he has pleaded guilty to molesting teens and younger girls with his hands in two other cases in state court.

Nassar “has led a double life,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Lewis said in a court filing. “On the surface, he was a respected, world-renowned expert for elite athletes. He was a medical doctor, a husband and a father. But underneath this veneer lurked a predator.”

Lewis said Nassar “poses an immense risk to the community.”

In July, he pleaded guilty to three charges in federal court in western Michigan, each carrying up to 20 years in prison. Sentences typically run at the same time, but U.S. District Judge Janet Neff can order separate, consecutive punishments.

Nassar’s attorneys didn’t make a specific recommendation in their memo but asked Neff for a “just sentence.”

“While Mr. Nassar wishes he could rewind the hands of time and make different choices, he realizes that this is not possible. … He deeply regrets the pain that he has caused the community, as well as his family and friends,” Shannon Smith and Matthew Newburg said.

Investigators found more than 37,000 images of child porn on Nassar’s electronic devices. He acknowledged that he dumped computer hard drives in the trash and paid $49 to have a laptop’s memory wiped clean to obstruct investigators who were hearing allegations about sexual assault.

The hard drives were discovered only because the trash truck in Nassar’s neighborhood was late one day.

“To be clear, this defendant amassed an enormous collection of abominable images of children being sexually abused, raped and degraded,” Lewis said.

Nassar pleaded guilty Wednesday to assaulting three girls at a Lansing-area gymnastics club while they sought treatment for injuries. He made a similar guilty plea last week, admitting that he molested girls at his Michigan State clinic and his home. Meanwhile, more than 100 women and girls are suing him.

Olympians Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Gabby Douglas say they were victims when Nassar worked for Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

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

Aly Raisman shifts focus from 2020 Olympics to new role

Getty Images
1 Comment

The people come forward to Aly Raisman almost daily now.

Random strangers. Men and women of various ages, races and backgrounds.

They see the six-time Olympic medal winning gymnast out in public and approach with a hug to give and a story to tell.

It was jarring at first, if Raisman is being honest.

When she pitched her autobiography “Fierce” to publishers last summer shortly after the 2016 Olympics, she intended to focus on her journey from tenacious prodigy to champion.

And while all of that is in there, the part of her experience that’s resonated the most since the book’s release earlier this month is the one she wasn’t sure she’d be able to share.

It’s Chapter 22, titled “The Survivors.”

In it, Raisman outlines how she was abused by former national team doctor Larry Nassar, how he “groomed” her by presenting himself as a friendly ear and how she feels he was empowered to continue over the course of years by those in charge at USA Gymnastics.

Raisman spent weeks working on the section, revisiting it again and again, trying to get it just right. Or at least as close to right as she can get.

“I put in a ton of thought whether how I wanted to come forward about this,” Raisman said. “What I realized at the end of the day is that I want change and I want people to understand what exactly abuse is. It’s very complicated. It’s very confusing. I didn’t know that I was being abused because I was manipulated so horribly.”

In the process, Raisman discovered the abuse Nassar committed against other female athletes — including allegations from Olympic teammates McKayla Maroney and Gabby Douglas — is a very small part of a much larger problem that extends far beyond the actions of just one man.

It’s why she took those painful memories and put them on paper, to share with the world that, as she said over and over again, “It’s not OK. It’s never OK.”

The 23-year-old’s new calling makes thinking about a return to competition in time for the 2020 Olympics seem trivial.

“This is the focus,” Raisman said.

A focus that has turned her into an unexpected symbol of strength for others who share their experiences.

“Unfortunately sexual abuse is far too common,” Raisman said. “I’ve realized how many people are affected by it and it’s disgusting. That’s why I want change.”

Raisman has become an increasingly outspoken critic of USA Gymnastics, blaming the governing body for a lack of oversight on Nassar’s conduct.

The 54-year-old spent nearly 20 years as the team doctor for the U.S. women’s elite program, often working with athletes one-on-one.

Raisman declined to get into specifics about the abuse she was subjected to but her experience falls in line with what many other have claimed against Nassar: that he touched them inappropriately while describing it as proper treatment.

Nassar pleaded guilty to multiple charges of sexual assault in Michigan on Wednesday and will face at least 25 years in prison.

He still faces additional criminal charges and has been named in more than 125 civil lawsuits filed by former athletes.

Nassar’s downfall began following reporting by the Indianapolis Star in 2016 that highlighted chronic mishandling of abuse allegations against coaches and staff at some of USA Gymnastics’ more than 3,500 clubs across the country.

Raisman has not taken any legal action yet against Nassar, though she’s not ruling it out.

Her larger concern is educating young athletes and their parents on the warning signs while also loudly clamoring for change.

She has seen a familiar pattern repeat itself over the last 18 months: another gymnast comes out claiming abuse by Nassar, and USA Gymnastics follows with a press release attributed to no specific individual that praises them for their courage.

One of the most decorated Olympic athletes of her generation doesn’t just want words. She wants action.

USA Gymnastics has taken several steps in recent months.

President and CEO Steve Penny resigned under pressure in March and was replaced by Kerry Perry, who takes over on Dec. 1.

The organization hired Toby Stark, a child welfare advocate, as its director of SafeSport over the summer.

Part of Stark’s mandate is educating members on rules, educational programs and reporting.

The federation also adopted over 70 recommendations by Deborah Daniels, a former federal prosecutor who oversaw an extensive independent review.

It’s not enough for Raisman.

She points out Penny wasn’t fired but instead forced out.

Though Nassar’s relationship with USA Gymnastics officially ended in 2015 after an athlete came forward about potential abuse, he was still allowed to continue working at Michigan State University while also volunteering at a USA Gymnastics-affiliated club.

“That is just unacceptable to me,” Raisman said. “(That gym) is a part of USA Gymnastics. USA Gymnastics is responsible for kids at that gym. Instead of doing their job, they let Larry keep working there.”

Raisman would like to see more extensive change in leadership at USA Gymnastics.

She never imagined being an agent for change as she dreamed of the Olympics while growing up in Needham, Mass., but she’s embracing the role as she comes to grips with her own victimhood.

Chapter 22 wasn’t the end, only the beginning.

“I’m still, as you see, processing it,” she said. “I’m still at a loss for words. I’m having so many people come up to me, telling me they had similar experience, that they filed a complaint and it was ignored. I will do everything I can to make sure those people are heard.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Gabby Douglas: ‘We were abused by Larry Nassar’