The former team physician for USA Gymnastics, who worked with female athletes during four Olympic games, has been accused of sexual abuse by more than 50 women.
Dr. Lawrence G. Nassar is facing accusations criminal sexual assault in Michigan and civil allegations in California court, the Indianapolis Star reports.
Along with three counts of sexual assault in Michigan state court, he is facing federal child pornography charges. He is also facing dozens of civil lawsuits.
The 53-year-old Michigan resident was a faculty member at Michigan State University, a team physician for a local youth gymnastics club and the president of the Gymnastics Doctor Autism Foundation, which helps gymnastics clubs start programs for children with special needs, according to his website.
Larry Nassar, through his attorney, Matthew Borgula, told the Indy Star he “emphatically” denies any wrongdoing.
USA Gymnastics issued a statement to the newspaper after being contacted about the allegations.
“Dr. Nassar is no longer affiliated with USA Gymnastics. Upon learning of athlete concerns, USA Gymnastics immediately notified law enforcement,” the statement said. “Since then, we have cooperated fully with the law enforcement agency, including refraining from making further statements or taking any other action that might interfere with the agency’s investigation. We are grateful to the athletes for coming forward to share their concerns.”
Nassar is currently facing criminal charges in both Michigan state court and in federal court.
The Holt, Michigan, resident was first arrested in November 2016, on three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a person younger than 13, the Indianapolis Star reported. He faces up to life in prison on those charges, which accuse Nassar of sexually abusing a girl at his home from 1998 to 2005. State authorities are investigating dozens of other criminal complaints made against the doctor.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said at a press conference the charges are the “tip of the iceberg” and “the guy was a predator … we’ll get the conviction.”
Nassar was released on $1 million bail in the state case, but found himself back behind bars in December 2016 after a two-count federal indictment was filed against him, accusing him of possessing thousands of images of child pornography from 2003 to September 2016, MLive.com.
He remains in custody on those charges, which carry a minimum of five years in prison and up to 40 years if convicted.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. One of the Victims Accuses Nassar of Sexually Assaulting Her When She Was 15
Rachael Denhollander told the Indianapolis Star she filed a criminal complaint against Dr. Larry Nassar in August with the Michigan State University Police. In the complaint, Denhollander accuses Nassar of sexually assaulting her when she was 15 and was taking part in club gymnastics in Michigan.
“Over the last 16 years, I’ve realized I have a responsibility, and the question about whether or not to speak publicly cannot center around what’s easy for me,” Denhollander, now 31 and living in Kentucky, told the Indy Star. “This isn’t something I want to do.”
Denhollander accuses Nassar of sexually assaulting her during six treatments for lower back pain. She told police he penetrated her vagina and anus with his finger and thumb and unhooked her bra and massaged her breasts, according to the Indy Star. She said he did it while her mother was in the room, but position her in a way that she couldn’t see.
“I was terrified. I was ashamed. I was very embarrassed. And I was very confused, trying to reconcile what was happening with the person he was supposed to be,” she told the newspaper. “He’s this famous doctor. He’s trusted by my friends. He’s trusted by these other gymnasts. How could he reach this position in the medical profession, how could he reach this kind of prominence and stature if this is who he is?”
She said she initially thought it was her fault.
Denhollander said she talked about the sexual abuse with her future husband when they were dating, several years after it happened. She told him she felt “dirty” and “damaged” because of it. Denhollander told the Indy Star she is worried she will have to testify in court if the case goes to trial, but said if she doesn’t do that, “he can continue.”
2. An Olympic Medalist Accuses Nassar of Fondling Her for His ‘Own Sexual Gratification’ & Says He Talked to Her About Sex
In addition to the August criminal complaint, a civil lawsuit was filed against Lawrence Nassar on September 8 in California. The lawsuit was filed under a pseudonym, Jane Doe, in Sacramento County court by attorney John Manly. You can read the full complaint, obtained by the Indianapolis Star, here.
Jane Doe is an Olympic medalist who claims she was sexually assaulted by Nassar from 1994 to 2000, from when she was 12 or 13 until she was 18. She is also suing USA Gymnastics and three of its past presidents, according to the Indianapolis Star. The lawsuit claims the organization was warned about Nassar and did not adequately address concerns about him.
In the lawsuit she accuses Nassar of “groping and fondling” her “vagina and anus.”
The lawsuit claims Nassar began “grooming” her in 1994 “under the guise of care, athletic training, osteopathy and kinesiology to normalize intimate, inappropriate and sexually abusive contact.”
She accuses Nassar of fondling and groping her “feet, ankles, thighs, buttocks, hips, waist, breast, arms, shoulders and neck” while claiming it was part of the treatment.
During later treatments, Jane Doe says Nassar performed “intravaginal adjustment,” which she claims was a fictitious guise where he would “penetrate” her vagina to adjust the bones in her hips:
This ‘intravaginal adjustment’ was done without gloves, lubricant and/or a chaperone,” and was done for (Nassar’s) own sexual gratification … In addition, (Jane Doe) is informed and believes (Nassar) would do anal and vaginal examinations of (Jane Doe) and other gymnasts. … These anal and vaginal examinations were well outside any recognized and/or accepted technique and were done for (Nassar’s) own sexual gratification.
Jane Doe also claims Nassar engaged in sexual talk and innuendo, openly discussing adult topics.
“(Nassar) would tell (Jane Doe) that other gymnasts would give ‘blowjobs’ and described in detail the process of oral sex and other bizarre, explicit sexual innuendo,” according to the lawsuit.
3. He Resigned From His Position With Team USA in 2015 & Has Been Fired by Michigan State
Nassar resigned from his position with USA Gymnastics in 2015, after previously saying he planned to stay with the team through the Rio Olympics, the Indianapolis Star reports.
His attorney told the newspaper the resignation was not because of the sexual assault allegations, but did say USA Gymnastics notified him of “potentially criminal allegations prior to his resignation.”
In a Facebook post in September 2015, Nassar wrote, “After 29 years on the USA Gymnastics Women’s Artistic National Team Staff, it has come time for me to retire. It has been a wonderful time for me and appreciate how much it has enhanced my life.”
Nassar was fired from his position at Michigan State University in September. ” The university has also launched a Title IX investigation.
According to his biography on the school’s website, Nassar completed his medical degree at Michigan State in 1993, and began a family practice residency at St. Lawrence Hospital. He then began a primary care sports medicine fellowship at Michigan State in 1997.
Nassar joined the USA Gymnastics National Team medical staff in 1986, and became the team physician in 1996, coordinating medical care for USA Gymnastics at all national and international competitions. He has received several awards for his work with the gymnastics organization.
He has also worked as a physician at Michigan State, with the women’s gymnastics and crew teams, and with the local Gedderts’ Twistars Gymnastics Club.
“He’s an extremely professional physician,” John Geddert, who was the 2012 Olympic team head coach and is owner of Twistars Gymnastics, told the Indianapolis Star. “Very competent and goes above and beyond the call of duty in treating athletes. He’s probably one of the most respected gymnastics professionals I’ve ever had to deal with.”
4. He Sells Educational DVDs for Gymnasts & Has Posted Several Videos on Youtube Demonstrating His Techniques
Nassar also sells educational DVDs for gymnasts on his website.
“The purpose of this website is to offer educational DVDs on the rehabilitation and conditioning needs of gymnasts, cheerleaders and dancers,” the website says. “There is also information about a variety of common injuries, how to tape injuries, and how to manipulate body parts to enhance injury recovery.”
Nassar has also posted several instructional videos demonstrating his techniques on his Youtube channel.
His last video was posted in July.
5. Nassar Is Married With 3 Daughters, Has Worked as a Physician at a Local High School & Is Running for the School Board
Nassar lives in Holt, Michigan, and is married with three daughters, according to his website.
He has worked as a team physician at Holt High School.
Nassar is also a candidate for the local school board, according to his Facebook page.
He says he moved to Holt in 1996 with his wife to raise his family.
“We are strong believers in public education. For the last twenty years, I have served as the volunteer team physician for Holt Athletics and continue to love working with our coaches and athletes,” he wrote on Facebook. “I volunteer my time in this way because I believe that our community is stronger when we are engaged and involved in helping our neighbors.”
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