Ex-Olympics doctor Larry Nassar pleads guilty to sex charges
(FILES) This file photo taken on June 23, 2017 shows former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar seen in the 55th District Court where Judge Donald Allen Jr. bound him over in Mason, Michigan, to stand trial on 12 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct.
Olympic gold medal-winning US gymnast Aly Raisman has revealed that she was sexually abused by former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar. Raisman, 23, is the latest member of the US national team and the biggest US gymnastics star to reveal being molested by Nassar, who is facing more than 20 counts of sexual assault. Raisman revealed the sexual abuse by Nassar in a preview on November 10, 2017 of an interview to be aired in full on Sunday on the CBS show "60 Minutes."
/ AFP PHOTO / JEFF KOWALSKYJEFF KOWALSKY/AFP/Getty ImagesJEFF KOWALSKY / AFP - Getty Images
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A gymnastics doctor accused of molesting more than 130 former patients — including Olympic gold medalists Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney and Aly Raisman — pleaded guilty Wednesday to criminal sexual conduct charges in a deal that will put him behind bars for at least 25 years.
Wearing an orange jail jumpsuit, a grim-faced Larry Nassar admitted to abusing seven girls, three of them when they were under the age of 13. Under the terms of his plea agreement with Michigan prosecutors, he agreed to a sentence range of 25 to 40 years.
"Guilty as stated, your honor," Nassar told the judge, a hangdog expression on his face, agreeing that he had penetrated girls with ungloved fingers under the guise of medical exams and treatments between 1998 and 2015.
No victims spoke during the hearing, but several held a press conference afterward to blast USA Gymnastics, which appointed Nassar team doctor, and Michigan State University, where he had his sports-medicine practice until the scandal erupted.
Rachael Denhollander said she was "grateful" for his guilty plea and "the army of women who has stopped a pedophile."
"Today we heard the truth from Larry," she said. "But we have yet to hear the truth from ... officials who kept Larry in power for decades."
Denhollander was the first of Nassar's patients to go public with allegations, telling the Indianapolis Star 15 months ago that he had assaulted her while she was a club-level gymnast in Michigan.
Over weeks and months, more and more women — some of them the biggest names in the gymnastics world — came forward to say Nassar had also preyed on them. He was such a respected figure in the gymnastics world that some didn't realize they had been abused until he was arrested.
At the start of the scandal, Nassar maintained that his "procedures" were legitimate medical practice. But his defenders dwindled after federal authorities charged him with possession of child pornography — thousands of images found on computer equipment he had thrown in the trash.
Even as Nassar pleaded guilty in the federal case, he was still fighting sexual assault charges leveled in two county courts. That changed last week when plea hearings were scheduled in Ingham County and Eaton County. Nassar pleaded guilty to seven counts in Ingham on Wednesday; he is scheduled to appear in Eaton next week. Nassar is due to be sentenced next month in the federal case.
Prosecutors said they will not oppose concurrent sentencing in the state cases and they will not prosecute Nassar for any of the other women who have filed complaints against him with police in Michigan.
Nassar, along with USA Gymnastics and Michigan State, still faces lawsuits from scores of former patients or their parents.
One of them, Kaylee Lorenz, spoke publicly for the first time on Wednesday. "I am tired of being labeled as Jane Doe," the 18-year-old said.
She thanked Denhollander for her bravery in being the first accuser and Raisman and Maroney for adding their voices. "It helped up to get to where we are today," she said, calling for the institutions that hired Nassar to be held accountable.
USA Gymnastics, which quietly fired Nassar in 2015 after learning of allegations, has been accused of failing to protect gymnasts from predators. Its president resigned under fire earlier this year, and the organization has recently strengthened safety policies — but some say a clean sweep of leadership is needed.
Critics also say Michigan State mishandled complaints against Nassar before the scandal became public and it fired him. The university has said it investigated any allegations brought against Nassar.
In a statement on Wednesday, Michigan State said Nassar's conviction "represents another important step toward justice for the victims. As President Simon has said, we recognize the pain sexual violence causes and deeply regret any time someone in our community experiences it. It takes tremendous courage for victims of sexual violence to come forward."
Tracy Connor is a senior writer for NBC News. She started this role in December, 2012. Connor is responsible for reporting and writing breaking news, features and enterprise stories for NBCNews.com. Connor joined NBC News from the New York Daily News, where she was a senior writer covering a broad range of news and supervising the health and immigration beats. Prior to that she was an assistant city editor who oversaw breaking news and the courts and entertainment beats.
Earlier, Connor was a staff writer at the New York Post, United Press International and Brooklyn Paper Publications.
Connor has won numerous awards from journalism organizations including the Deadline Club and the New York Press Club.