Attorneys for Larry Nassar, the ex-USA Gymnastics doctor who stands accused of sexually abusing young gymnasts for years, filed a petition in court Friday to delay his trial.
The petition, filed in Michigan’s Ingham County Circuit Court, cited a recent uptick in negative press pertaining to Nassar as cause for both a delay to the start of his trial and a change in venue.
“It is difficult to conceive of a case that has generated more widespread, inflammatory and sustained media coverage than the case against Defendant Nassar,” his attorneys wrote in the motion, obtained by the Lansing (Mich.) State Journal. “Local media outlets have published between 160-200 stories involving Defendant Nassar, and that number has rapidly increased over the past few days.”
The motion didn’t mention McKayla Maroney by name, but the accusations made by the 2012 Olympic gold medalist that Nassar also molested her caused the large increase in stories — and not just in the Lansing area, where Nassar previously was the doctor for Michigan State University’s gymnastics team.
Maroney made her accusations earlier this week as part of the #MeToo campaign that appeared on social media in the wake of revelations involving disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, who allegedly sexually harassed and assaulted a slew of women since at least the 1990s.
The campaign, spurred by a tweet from actress Alyssa Milano, invited women to add the hashtag to their social media statuses to demonstrate how widespread the problem of sexual harassment is in all industries, not just Hollywood.
Maroney, 21, added a string of accusations to her hashtag, writing that Nassar began molesting her when she was 13 and continued abusing her until she left the sport. Maroney, who won a team gold medal as part of the Fierce Five, as well as a silver in the vault at the 2012 Olympics in London, last competed in 2013. She announced her retirement last year.
Nassar stands accused of molesting 140 women and girls and is facing 23 criminal sexual conduct charges. It is unclear whether Maroney is among the 140 victims named in the case, which will be tried in two Michigan counties.
Jury selection for the trial in Ingham County is scheduled for the week of Dec. 7, according to the State Journal. That’s the same week Nassar is scheduled to be sentenced for a federal case involving child pornography.
If the court does not grant Nassar’s motion, the Ingham County trial is scheduled to begin in January. A second trial, in neighboring Eaton County, has not been scheduled but would take place only after the Ingham trial is complete.
Convictions in these cases could result in a life sentence for Nassar.