Ex-USA Gymnastics Doctor Larry Nassar Pleads Guilty to 7 Counts of Criminal Sexual Misconduct
The former Team USA Gymnastics doctor who's been accused molesting multiple team members has pleaded guilty to seven charges of criminal sexual misconduct.
In Michigan's Ingham County, Larry Nassar entered the plea during a Wednesday hearing on charges he molested girls who were under the impression that they were receiving medical treatment.
Nassar faces lawsuits filed by more than 125 women and girls and has been accused by elite athletes, including McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and, as of this week, Gabby Douglas.
"For all those involved, so horribly sorry," Nassar said. "This was like a match that turned into a forest fire, out of control. And I pray the rosary every day for forgiveness... I want them to heal. I want this community to heal. I have no animosity toward anyone. I just want healing. It's time."
The plea is part of an agreement that will put the disgraced physician in prison for at least 25 years, though Ingham County Judge Rosemarie Aquilina could sentence him to as many as 40.
"You used that position of trust that you had in the most vile way — to abuse children. I agree that now is a time of healing, but it might take them a lifetime of healing while you spend your lifetime behind bars thinking about what you did in taking away their childhood," Aquilina told Nassar.
In an Instagram post this week, Gabby Douglas was the latest to disclose allegations against Nassar.
"I didn't publicly share my experiences, as well as many other things because for years we were conditioned to stay silent and honestly some things are extremely painful," the 21-year-old wrote.
Earlier this month, her former gymnastics teammate, Aly Raisman, alleged abuse by Nassar in an interview with CBS News and reacted to his court appearance Wednesday on Twitter.
"Court referring to Larry as DOCTOR Nassar. I AM DISGUSTED. I am very disappointed. He does NOT deserve that. Larry is digusting (sic). Larry is a MONSTER not a doctor," Raisman wrote.
Before Raisman, Maroney said in a statement on Twitter that she was repeatedly abused by Nassar while a member of Team USA, beginning when she was just 13 years old.
"Dr. Nassar told me I was receiving 'medically necessary treatment' that he had been performing on patients for over 30 years," Maroney wrote.
Nassar has been accused of sexually molesting more than 100 girls and women over the course of decades as a physician.
Nassar pleaded guilty to federal child pornography charges in July and is due to be sentenced in that case on Dec. 7.
In a press conference held Wednesday on the heels of Nassar's guilty plea, three of his victims spoke to reporters.
"I am tired of being labeled as Jane Doe. This didn't happen to Jane Doe. This happened to me," one of the women said while speaking publicly for the first time.
Rachael Denhollander said she and her fellow victims "were patronized, and treated like uneducated females, incapable of 'understanding the nuanced differences' between medical treatment and sexual assault."
While condemning Nassar, victim Lindsey Lemke defended the sport of gymnastics as a whole.
"I just hope that all of us here today can help to make a difference, because gymnastics is a great sport," Lemke said.
The attorney for these three women called for Michigan State University to release the results of a reported investigation into Nassar's misconduct.
"A report about 150 little girls being molested, and they're not going to release it? Excuse me? That is outrageous," the attorney told reporters.
In a statement, MSU said Wednesday:
"The plea deal and conviction of Larry Nassar on Nov. 22 on state criminal sexual conduct charges in Ingham County represents another important step toward justice for the victims. As President [Lou Anna] 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.
"We are grateful for the efforts of the entire MSU Police Department, specifically the detectives in the Special Victim’s Unit, who worked diligently and tirelessly since August 2016 on building the criminal case that led to Nassar’s conviction. We also greatly appreciate the efforts put forth by the Michigan Attorney General’s office as they prosecuted the case. This cooperation was vital to the conviction."