More victims of sex assault to confront former US Olympic doctor at sentencing hearing
By: Channel 8 Eyewitness Neewsroom
Nearly 60 women and girls will confront former USA Olympic gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar in another Michigan courtroom today as a judge considers sentencing him to more years in prison a week after he was given up to 175 years for multiple counts of criminal sexual misconduct.
Nassar is scheduled to appear in Eaton County Circuit Court in Charlotte, Michigan, where he pleaded guilty to three counts of felony sexual misconduct stemming from assaults on girls, including one under the age of 13.
Eaton County Circuit Judge Janice Cunningham is allowing many more victims to face Nassar in court.
The Michigan Attorney General’s Office has scheduled 57 women to give statements in court, but said on Tuesday that the number could climb. Cunningham has set aside four days for the sentencing hearing.
A week ago today, the 54-year-old Nassar was sentenced in a neighboring county to 40 to 175 years in prison after 156 victims asked Ingham County Circuit Judge Rosemarie Aquilina to give the disgraced doctor the maximum punishment, saying he repeatedly sexually assaulted them under the guise of performing medical treatment.
Nassar also served for more than two decades as a sports medicine doctor at Michigan State University, where many victims said assaults took place in his examination room, sometimes in the presence of their parents.
Aquilina’s sentencing of Nassar — which she described in court as a "death warrant" — was on top of 60 years he received after pleading guilty to federal charges of possessing child pornography.
In the Eaton County case, Nassar faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison, put prosecutors are asking Cunningham for a term of 40 to 125 years.
Nassar’s sexual misconduct in Eaton County stems from assaults that occurred between 2009 and 2011 at Twistars Gymnastics Club in Dimondale, a gym run by John Geddert, who was head coach of the USA Olympic women’s gymnastics squad that won the gold medal in team competition at the 2012 games in London.
Following his suspension, Geddert issued a statement on the Twistars website, saying, “I am so incredibly disappointed in USA Gymnastics’ letter and its false allegations that I have violated Safe Sport Policy."
"I can’t express in words the anger, frustration and sense of helplessness we feel with regard to the Nassar criminal cases now going on in court. Our hearts ache for the victims as they deal with this unthinkable situation," he said. "We will fight these allegations at the appropriate time and place – but at this point in time, anything we do will distract and detract from the victims’ statements at the Nassar sentencing hearing before Judge Aquilina."
At least four members of the team known as the "Fierce Five" — Aly Raisman, Jordyn Wieber, Gabby Douglas, and McKayla Maroney — all say they were molested by Nassar, who was the team doctor.
In the fallout from the Nassar case, the USA Gymnastics Association suspended Geddert and barred him coaching at events sanctioned by the organization.
Also in the aftermath of the Nassar scandal, the entire board of directors of USA Gymnastics resigned last week and Michigan State Attorney General Bill Schuette launched an investigation into how Michigan State University handled complaints against Nassar. Many victims who spoke at the Ingham County sentencing hearing said their complaints against Nassar were ignored, dismissed or discouraged by university officials.
The president of the Lansing school, Lou Anna Simon, resigned under pressure after coming under criticism for how she handled the Nassar scandal.