Michigan prosecutors upped the charges against former USA gymnastics doctor last month. In December, Dr. Larry Nassar, 53, was arrested and charged with three counts of criminal sexual conduct against a person under 13 years old. Now, prosecutors are filing nearly two dozen charges against Nassar related to alleged sexual assault against nine girls.
These new charges reflect the first criminal charges made against Nassar in relation to his work at Michigan State University. During his time at the facility, Nassar acted as the preferred doctor for regional gymnasts with back or hip injuries. He also faces civil lawsuits filed by dozens of women and girls formerly in his care. This includes one filed by 2000 Olympian Jamie Dantzscher.
In a 60 Minutes interview about her experiences, Dantzscher said, “[Nassar] would put his fingers inside of me, move my leg around. He would tell me I was going to feel a pop and that that would put my hips back and help my back pain.”
Nassar Sexually Abused Children In his Capacity as Doctor
The two dozen charges are filed across two cases. One in Ingham County where Michigan State stands and one in neighboring Eaton County home of the Gedderts’ Twistars Club, a gymnastics club. Nassar denies the charges and has reportedly told Michigan State bosses that he “will overcome this” in a 2016 email.
According to Michigan Atty. Gen. Bill Schuette, “Dr. Nassar used his status and authority to engage in horrid sexual assaults under the guise of medical procedures.”
Many of his victims accuse Nassar of inserting his fingers in their vaginas during physical treatments. Nassar allegedly asked parents to either to leave the room or otherwise blocked his actions from their view. Two of the victims were under 13 and seven were between the ages of 13 and 16.
According to investigative Det. Sgt. Andrea Mumford, one girl, identified in the filings as Victim B, says “she and all the gymnasts trusted Nassar and that he was like a god to the gymnasts. Because it was happening to all of them, they thought it was normal.”
The Unveiling of Systematic USA Gymnastics Abuse
Nassar is not the first professional affiliated with USA Gymnastics facing accusations of abuse. Last year’s IndyStar investigation included research on sexual misconduct complaint files the organization kept on 54 coaches. They also unveiled a “Jane Doe” lawsuit filed in 2013 against USA Gymnastics. In it, Doe claims former coach William McCabe secretly videotaped her undressing. The suit accuses the broader organization of negligence as McCabe received four prior sexual abuse complaints through his work with the organization. Yet, they encouraged him to continue coaching, including with the then 11-year-old Jane Doe.
Upon initial publication of the IndyStar investigations, U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun waved off the allegations. “We do not intend to investigate,” he told reporters in August 2016. He continued, “We couldn’t possibly investigate allegations of misconduct in 47 different (national governing bodies). We do have what I think is a pretty state-of-the-art policy regarding abuse and misconduct, not just sexual misconduct, so we will watch those proceedings.”
Four months later, IndyStar released another report stating the found at least 368 current and former gymnasts who alleged abuse at the hands of gym owners, coaches, and other adults at a rate of one every 20 days. USA Gymnastics responded by calling on a former federal prosecutor to lead an independent review with the aim of strengthening policies and procedures on safety.