DOCTOR ACCUSED OF MOLESTING U.S. GYMNASTS TO PLEAD GUILTY TO OTHER CHARGES
A plea deal could mean a doctor at the heart of a sexual abuse scandal involving more than 100girls and women, including top American gymnasts, won’t face federal criminal charges inthose cases.
Dr. Larry Nassar, a former team doctor for USA Gymnastics, signed the agreement June 23.He’s scheduled to change his plea from not guilty to guilty on Tuesday morning in a GrandRapids, Mich., federal court.
According to the agreement, Nassar will plead guilty to three counts relating to childpornography. The document states that between 2003 and 2016, Nassar knowingly possessed thousandsof images and videos of child pornography.
He could get up to 20 years in prison on each pornography count.
In return for his guilty plea, federal authorities agree not to further prosecute Nassar“for sexual exploitation and attempted sexual exploitation of children.” That relatesto allegations that Nassar molested two minors in his swimming pool in 2015. And he won’t beprosecuted for “interstate/international travel with intent and engaging in illicit sexualconduct in foreign places.” This relates to a period between 2006 and 2013, when Nassar isalleged to have abused some elite U.S. gymnasts competing overseas.
“This affects any federal charge involving [alleged] abuse overseas or at the Karolyiranch,” says John Manly, a lawyer for many of the plaintiffs. Famed gymnastics coaches Belaand Martha Karolyi have a ranch in Texas that serves as a training site for top U.S. femalegymnasts.
Manly says the plea deal would affect about 10 percent of the estimated 119 women who’vealleged sexual abuse by Nassar — but that would include some of the most prominentplaintiffs, including gymnasts who competed in the Olympics and other major sportscompetitions.
According to Manly, his clients’ reactions range from sadness to anger.
“The message the federal government is sending, and the U.S. Attorney’s office issending [with the plea bargain],” Manly says, “is either it didn’t happen or itdoesn’t matter. In my view that’s a breach of faith with our athletes.”
The U.S. Attorney’s office in Grand Rapids did not respond to two requests to talk aboutthe Nassar plea deal. NPR also was unable to reach Nassar’s lawyer.
Manly says the plea deal does not affect Michigan state charges of sexual abuse, and a number ofcases against Nassar still are moving forward. If Nassar is convicted in those cases, he reportedlycould receive a life sentence.
Nassar worked with female gymnasts in Michigan as far back as the late 1970s. In 1986 he becamea member of the USA Gymnastics medical staff, a role in which he attended several Olympic games. In1993 he earned an osteopathic medical degree from Michigan State University, where he worked from1997 until last September, when the school fired Nassar amid the emerging allegations of longtimesexual abuse.
Message from Executive Director Laura A. Ahearn: Parents for Megan's Law and the Crime VictimsCenter provides prevention education, advocacy, counseling and other valuable support services tochild and adult victims of sexual assault and to all victims of violent crime. Please visit ourwebsite at www.parentsformeganslaw.org for news, information and resources in your community.