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Larry Nassar was stabbed multiple times at Florida federal prison, union official says

Nassar was sentenced to decades in prison for sexually assaulting gymnasts, including Olympic medalists.
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Larry Nassar, the disgraced sports doctor who was convicted of sexually abusing female gymnasts, was stabbed multiple times in an altercation with another inmate at a federal prison in Florida, a prison union leader said Monday.

Nassar, 59, was stabbed twice in the neck, twice in the back and six times in the chest in the attack Sunday, and he also sustained a collapsed lung, said Joe Rojas, the president of Local 506, which represents employees at Federal Correctional Complex Coleman located northwest of Orlando.

Rojas, who said he verified the information with staff members on duty, said Nassar was stable.

The federal Bureau of Prisons said an inmate was assaulted at Coleman at 2:35 p.m. Sunday but declined to identify the prisoners involved. Officials said that staff members undertook lifesaving measures and that the inmate was taken to a local hospital.

"No staff or other inmates were injured and at no time was the public in danger. An internal investigation is ongoing," officials said, adding that the FBI was notified.

Nassar was sentenced to decades in prison for sexually assaulting gymnasts, including Olympic medalists. He is serving time for convictions in both state and federal courts.

He pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting gymnasts and other athletes with his hands under the guise of medical treatment for hip and leg injuries. At his trial, more than 150 accusers spoke out or submitted statements detailing his abuse.

In June 2022, the Michigan Supreme Court rejected a final appeal.

He also separately pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography.

Nassar worked at Michigan State University and at Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics, traveling the world with elites of the sport.

He has been housed at Coleman since 2018 in a unit with other sex offenders, Rojas said.

"It's unusual that this would happen in that unit," Rojas said. He said employee shortages and vacancies at the high-security prison have left staff members working extra shifts and filling other roles to the detriment of safety and security.

"This is why it happened," Rojas said of the assault. "We don't have the staff."

The Bureau of Prisons has grappled with high-profile prisoner deaths in recent years.

Ted Kaczynski, the man known as the Unabomber, who was serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole, was found dead in June in his cell at Federal Medical Center Butner in North Carolina. A senior law enforcement official said Kaczynski, who had been diagnosed with cancer, died by suicide.

In 2018, former Boston crime boss James "Whitey" Bulger was killed at a federal prison in Hazelton, West Virginia, within a day of having been transferred there. Bulger, who was 89 and in ailing health, was previously housed at Coleman.

At Hazelton, prison workers had complained of dangerous staffing shortages. 

In 2019, accused sex offender Jeffrey Epstein was found dead by suicide in his cell in a New York prison, federal authorities said. A recent report found that a cascade of misconduct, negligence and errors by Bureau of Prisons employees had allowed Epstein, the millionaire financier who was facing multiple sex trafficking charges, the opportunity to kill himself.

Survivors of Nassar's sexual abuse said Monday that the Bureau of Prisons must keep a tighter watch on him.

"This assault on Nassar brings no peace to me personally or to the survivors I've spoken with today," said Sarah Klein, a former gymnast who says Nassar sexually assaulted her when she was a young girl.

"I want him to face the severe prison sentence he received because of the voices of survivors," Klein said in a statement. "I absolutely do not support violence because it's morally wrong and death would be an easy out for Nassar. I urge the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Prisons to see that Nassar is not allowed to escape his sentence and the consequences of his horrible crimes."

Rachael Denhollander, another former gymnast who was the first to publicly accuse Nassar of sexual abuse, tweeted that "none of the women I've spoken with are rejoicing today" and she cautioned that justice isn't seeing him killed in prison.

"Forgiveness is releasing personal vengeance and desiring for the offender to find true repentance and peace," she wrote.