Lawrence Gerard Nassar (born August 16, 1963) is a convicted serial child molester and a former USA Gymnastics national team doctor and osteopathic physician at Michigan State University. Nassar’s cumulative sexual assault crimes were the basis of the USA Gymnastics sex abuse scandal, in which he was accused of assaulting at least 250 young women and girls and one young man, dating back to 1992. His victims included numerous Olympic and United States women’s national gymnastics team gymnasts,and he has admitted to 10 of those accusations. In July 2017, Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to child pornography charges. On January 24, 2018, Nassar was sentenced to 175 years in a Michigan state prison after pleading guilty to seven counts of sexual assault of minors. On February 5, 2018, he was sentenced to an additional 40 to 125 years in prison after pleading guilty to an additional three counts of sexual assault. His state prison sentences are to run consecutively with his federal sentence.
In 2015, USA Gymnastics cut ties with Nassar “after learning of athlete concerns.” In September 2016, The Indianapolis Star revealed that Rachael Denhollander and another former gymnast had accused Nassar of sexual abuse. He was fired by Michigan State on September 20, as he had been reassigned from clinical and teaching duties a month earlier.
In February 2017, three former gymnasts: Jeanette Antolin, Jessica Howard and Jamie Dantzscher gave an interview with 60 Minutes in which they said that Nassar had sexually abused them. They also alleged that the “emotionally abusive environment” at the national team training camps run by Béla and Márta Károlyi at the Karolyi Ranch near Huntsville, Texas gave Nassar an opportunity to take advantage of the gymnasts and made them afraid to speak up about the abuse. Rachael Denhollander, one of the first women to publicly accuse Nassar, said in court in May 2017 that Nassar had sexually abused her on five doctor’s visits in 2000 when she was 15 years old.
Olympic gold medalist McKayla Maroney, using the #MeToo hashtag on Twitter, stated that Nassar had repeatedly molested her since she was 13 years old until she retired from the sport eight years later in 2016. Maroney subsequently filed a lawsuit against Nassar, Michigan State University, the United States Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics. The lawsuit accused USA Gymnastics of covering up the sexual abuse by paying Maroney $1.25 million to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Maroney’s attorney John Manly called Nassar a “pedophile doctor”.
During a 60 Minutes interview, Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman also said that Nassar had sexually abused her. Raisman stated that Nassar molested her when she was 15 years old. Gabby Douglas was criticized by fellow Olympic teammate Simone Biles and others for sending a tweet, that they interpreted as criticizing Raisman and of “victim-shaming”, that stated that “dressing in a provocative/sexual way incites the wrong crowd.” Douglas later apologized for the tweet, and said she was also a victim of Nassar’s abuse.
Former national team member Maggie Nichols stated that Nassar abused her, and that he “groomed” her by connecting with her on Facebook and complimenting her appearance on numerous occasions. According to court filings and interviews, it was Nichols and her coach Sarah Jantzi who reported Nassar to USA Gymnastics officials on June 17, 2015 after the coach overheard Nichols and another gymnast talking about Nassar’s behavior. Simone Biles came forward shortly after with accounts that she too had been sexually abused by Nassar, and Jordyn Wieber made a statement at Nassar’s court sentencing in which she also accused Nassar of sexually abusing her during her time at USA Gymnastics.
In November 2016, Nassar was indicted on state charges of sexual assault of a child from 1998 to 2005. The crimes allegedly began when the victim was six years old. He was charged with 22 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with minors: fifteen in Ingham County and seven in neighboring Eaton County. The allegations asserted that Nassar had molested seven girls under the guise that he was providing legitimate medical treatment at his home and at a clinic on the MSU campus. Nassar was arrested in December 2016 after the FBI found more than 37,000 images of child pornography and a video of Nassar molesting underage girls. On April 6, 2017, his medical license was revoked for three years.
On July 11, 2017, Nassar pleaded guilty to receiving child pornography in 2004, possession of pornographic images of children dating from 2004 to 2016, and tampering with evidence by destroying and concealing the images. On December 7, 2017, Judge Janet T. Neff sentenced Nassar to 60 years in federal prison. If he survives that sentence, he will be on supervised release for the rest of his life.
On November 22, 2017, Nassar pleaded guilty in Ingham County Circuit Court to seven counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with minors under the age of sixteen. He admitted to molesting seven girls, three of whom were under the age of thirteen. On November 29, he pleaded guilty to an additional three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct in Eaton County. As of January 18, 2018, 135 women had accused Nassar of sexual assault while he worked for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University. During the following week, the number rose to 150.In a lawsuit that was filed in April 2017, a woman claimed that Nassar had sexually assaulted her while he was still in medical school in 1992.
On January 24, 2018, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina sentenced Nassar to 40 to 175 years in prison for the sexual assault of minors. Aquillina allowed Nassar’s accusers to present extended victim impact statements and dismissed objections raised to this move by Nassar. During the sentencing, the judge informed Nassar that he had missed numerous chances to receive treatment for his sexual urges, as Nassar had been aware of these urges himself from a young age. She also stated that there were likely dozens of additional victims who had not come forward, and made it clear that Nassar will never be free again.
Nassar was practicing without a Texas medical license while he worked at the Karolyi Ranch in Huntsville. According to McKayla Maroney, this was where Nassar molested young women for over 15 years. Practicing medicine without a license in Texas is a third-degree felony, although it is rarely prosecuted. On January 31, 2018, a Michigan judge stated that at least as many as 265 girls had accused him of sexual misconduct.
On February 5, 2018, Judge Janice Cunningham sentenced Nassar to 40 to 125 years in prison for the three counts of criminal sexual assault to which he had pleaded in November. apologized for his years of abuse, saying that the impact his victims’ statements had on him “pales in comparison” to the suffering he inflicted on them. Despite this, Cunningham stated that Nassar was still in “denial” about the “devastating impact” of his crimes.
The Eaton County sentence will run concurrently with the Ingham County sentence. In turn, Nassar’s state sentences will begin upon completion of his federal child pornography sentence. Neff ordered any sentences imposed at the state level will run consecutively with the federal sentence.As a result, Nassar will serve a minimum of 100 years in prison, as each individual sentence would have been enough by itself to ensure that he will die in prison.
Nassar was transferred to the United States Penitentiary in Tucson, Arizona in February 2018. Earlier, he was transferred from Eaton county jail to the federal detention center at FCI Milan near Milan, Michigan. In August 2018, The Detroit News reported that Nassar was transferred to the Federal Transfer Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. According to his lawyers, Nassar was assaulted almost as soon as he was placed in the general population at USP Tucson, and an investigation subsequently determined that Nassar could not be safely held at Tucson. As a result, he was moved to the United States Penitentiary, Coleman in Florida. His earliest possible release date from federal custody is March 23, 2069. If he is still alive at this point, he will be 105 years old and begin his state sentences.
Following Nassar’s conviction, more than 150 federal and state lawsuits have been filed against him, Michigan State University, the US Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics, and the Twistars Gymnastics Club. The entire 18-member board of USA Gymnastics, including Steve Penny, tendered their resignations. MSU President Lou Anna Simon has resigned along with MSU Director of Athletics Mark Hollis, with other people also being under scrutiny. Nassar’s crimes at Michigan State and USA Gymnastics have drawn comparisons to Jerry Sandusky‘s crimes at Penn State University. In both of these cases, mistakes were made when authorities “turned the other way” or tried to hide the activities of a child molester instead of immediately contacting law enforcement.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette promised a full investigation into how Nassar was able to abuse young women for decades while working at the state’s university. Michigan State University has agreed to pay $500 million to 332 alleged victims of Nassar, settling lawsuits filed by the victims. This was the largest amount of money in history settled by a university for a sexual abuse case. On July 18, 2018, more than 140 survivors of Nassar’s abuse appeared on stage together at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, California to receive the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at the 2018 ESPY Awards ceremony. Gymnasts Sara Klein and Aly Raisman and softball player Tiffany Thomas Lopez accepted on the survivors’ behalf and spoke. Klein identified herself as Nassar’s first victim 30 years before. Lead detective Andrea Munford of the Michigan State Police, former assistant Attorney General Angela Povilaitis, and Judge Rosemarie Aquilina of the 30th circuit court in Ingham County, Michigan were identified, and Aquilina was present at the ceremony. Singer MILCK performed her song “Quiet”, as she herself was also a victim of sexual abuse. In late July 2018, it was announced that Nassar was seeking a new sentencing hearing due to concerns of perceived bias by Judge Aquilina, but his request was later denied by Judge Janice Cunningham.