In a sentencing memorandum filed Wednesday at a Michigan county court, the state’s attorney general’s office asked that former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State doctor Larry Nassar be sentenced to 40 to 125 years in prison. A sentencing hearing is set to take place next week for Nassar, who pleaded guilty in November to 10 counts of sexually assaulting young girls, and it is expected to last several days, with dozens of girls and women to testify about the abuse he inflicted on them under the guise of medical treatment.
According to the Lansing State Journal, prosecutors chose the high end of their request, 125 years, to reflect the number of people who reported assaults by Nassar to Michigan State Police. The total number of complaints against him, including from Olympic gold medalists Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney, is more than 150.
In December, Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in prison on federal charges related to child pornography, which he is appealing. The 54-year-old lost his physician’s license in April, approximately three weeks after USA Gymnastics CEO Steve Penny resigned amid widespread criticism of the organization’s handling of sexual abuse complaints lodged by athletes and others against Nassar and several coaches.
“For decades Nassar preyed upon unknowing victims at every turn and at every opportunity: in the basement of his home, at this medical clinic, at his volunteer gym, at United States Gymnastics training facilities, and at hotels across the world,” Michigan assistant attorney general Angela Povilaitis wrote in the sentencing memorandum (via the State Journal).
“He used his trusted and respected position as a physician to harm instead of heal, to secure unlimited access to a pool of victims, to live out every day his deviant sexual desires while maintaining a secret collection of child sexually abusive photographs and videos that was not only vast but grotesque.”
“He abused my trust, he abused my body and he left scars on my psyche that may never go away … He needs to be behind bars so he will never prey upon another child,” Maroney had written in a statement to the federal judge who presided over Nassar’s sentencing for child pornography.
Michigan State announced in December that it would set up a $10 million fund to assist women and girls who have said Nassar abused them. The school and USA Gymnastics are the subjects of scores of lawsuits from women and girls claiming not enough was done to protect them from Nassar’s predations.
Earlier this week, the parents of University of Oklahoma gymnast Maggie Nichols, a former national team member and Olympic hopeful, accused USA Gymnastics of telling them in 2015 not to report Nassar’s abuse of their daughter to the police. “We were told that USA Gymnastics would handle it,” John Nichols said (via CBS Minnesota). “They were going to contact the FBI.”
USA Gymnastics responded to those allegations in a statement Tuesday, saying that it “never attempted to hide Nassar’s misconduct.” The organization said it “kept the matter confidential because of the FBI’s directive not to interfere with the investigation. … The information that Maggie and later a second athlete provided was important, but did not provide reasonable suspicion that sexual abuse had occurred.”
“USA Gymnastics is committed every day to ensuring our athletes are safe and further developing a culture of empowerment,” the organization added.
On Wednesday, Raisman sharply criticized USA Gymnastics, saying on Twitter, “STOP VICTIM SHAMING. Your statements are hurtful. If you did not believe that I & others were abused than why pressure & manipulate us? WE WERE MOLESTED BY A MONSTER U ENABLED 2 THRIVE FOR DECADES. You are 100% responsible. It was mandatory to get ‘treatment’ by Nassar.”
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