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Olympic Gymnastics Doctor Pleads Guilty to Child Pornography Charges
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Larry Nassar

Summary: The U.S. doctor that worked several Olympics and for the Michigan State University pleaded guilty to federal charges of child pornography amid numerous accusations of sexual abuse.

The former USA Gymnastics team doctor has been accused of a sexual abuse scandal involving over 100 girls and women. Larry Nassar, 53, pleaded guilty to three counts of child pornography in a Michigan federal court, the first time he has admitted any guilt in the scandal.

  
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The plea deal stipulates that with his guilty plea, no federal charges for the sexual abuse of four young women will be pursued. The U.S. attorney’s office confirmed he will be sentenced on November 27 in the Grand Rapids, Michigan federal court. He admitted to knowingly downloading images and videos of child pornography in 2004. He also admitted to possessing thousands of illegal images and videos from 2003 to 2016. He pleaded guilty to three federal counts of receiving and possessing child pornography and destroying and concealing evidence when he realized an ongoing law enforcement investigation would turn up his child-pornography activities. Nassar paid to have his work laptop wiped clean and threw away hard drives that contained pornographic images in September 2016.

With the plea deal, he will not be prosecuted “for sexual exploitation and attempted sexual exploitation of children.” Those charges included allegations that he molested two minors in 2015 in his swimming pool. He also won’t be prosecuted for “interstate/international travel with intent and engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places.” That charge involves “conduct that is alleged to have occurred between 2006 and 2013” with two other young women.

The lawyer for many of the plaintiffs, John Manly, said, “This affects federal charges involving [alleged] abuse overseas or at the Karolyi ranch.” Famous gymnastics coaches Bela and Martha Karolyi have a Texas ranch used as a training site for the country’s top female gymnasts. The plea deal affects roughly 10 percent of the 119 women that alleged sexual abuse by Nassar, most of which are the more prominent plaintiffs that have competed in the Olympics and other major competitions.

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Manly expressed that his clients feel anger and sadness. “The message the federal government is sending and the U.S. Attorney’s Office is sending [with the plea bargain] is either it didn’t happen or it doesn’t matter,” Manly said. “In my view that’s a breach of faith with our athletes.”

Federal prosecutors contend that the plea bargain only involves the four individuals named in the agreement, all of which supported the deal. They released a statement noting, “The plea agreement does not preclude the government from pursuing additional charges against Nassar related to his conduct with other individuals, if appropriate.” He must also pay restitution to the victims.



Acting U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge added, “With Dr. Nassar’s admissions of guilt on federal charges today, victims and the public can be assured that a day of reckoning is indeed in Dr. Nassar’s future. Today’s guilty plea…ensures that all of Dr. Nassar’s victims, including those who are not victims of the current charges or referenced in the plea agreement, will have an opportunity for vindication through  the broad federal sentencing process. My office will be aggressively pursuing a sentence that accounts for all of Dr. Nassar’s conduct.”

He will have a minimum five years behind bars and up to 60 years in prison for the child pornography charges. Sentencing guidelines in the agreement aim for 22 to 27 years but U.S. District Judge Janet Neff does not have to follow the guidelines.

Nassar is still facing 25 charges of sexual misconduct in state court. His attorney explained that Nassar’s “position on the state cases has not changed and we intend to proceed to trial. The plea today was negotiated only to resolve the federal charges.” He is accused of molesting over 100 young women while using his role as an osteopathic doctor.

Nassar worked as a sports doctor at Michigan State University from 1997 to last September when he was fired as a result of the numerous allegations of sexual abuse. He also served at the team physician for several Olympics starting back in 1986. He was first introduced to the world of female gymnastics in the 1970s.

Do you think Nassar will ever see the light of day as a free man again? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

To learn more about other molesters, read these articles:

Photo: nbcnews.com



 

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