CNN reports that Larry Nassar, former doctor for the USA Gymnastics team, has pleaded guilty to seven first-degree criminal sexual conduct charges. Nassar reportedly abused multiple women, some under the age of 13 and others between the ages of 13 and 15. A total of 125 victims reported the attacks to Michigan State Police and will be giving statements at Nassar’s sentencing hearing in January.
Nassar apologized in court and has reached a plea deal with prosecution. The judge stated in court that Nassar violated his patients’ trust and his oath to do no harm, and praised the victims for coming forward.
Many of his victims were gold-medal gymnasts who were members of the “Fierce Five” team, says CNN. He worked as the doctor for Michigan State University gymnasts and was an associate professor at the University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine. His employment at MSU spanned from 1997 to 2016, and he famously became the team doctor for four USA Gymnastics teams headed to the Olympic Games.
The state has charged Nassar with 11 third-degree criminal sexual conduct counts and 22 first-degree criminal sexual conduct counts. In a separate case, Nassar faces federal charges of possessing and receiving child pornography, as well as destroying evidence pertaining to those charges. The hearing for those charges occurs on Monday of next week.
Many of the first-degree charges pertain to patients under the age of 13. McKayla Maroney spoke out publically against Nassar, saying he began molesting her at the age of 13 while claiming to provide “medically necessary treatment.”
USA Gymnastics issued a public statement apologizing for the fact that Nassar had ever hurt any athletes. Prosecutors consulted victims regarding the plea deal, and USA Gymnastics believe his pleading guilty is an “important acknowledgment of his appalling and devious conduct that permits punishment without further victimization of survivors,” reports CNN.
Rachel Denhollander was the first victim to file police reports against Nassar, and alleges at least five occurrences of such abuse began in 2000. She has told authorities that at her first visit she thought everything he did was a legitimate treatment, but later groping, unhooking of her bra and fondling her were very apparent episodes of sexual abuse.
*Photo credit CNN