MASON, MICH. - A former Michigan State University doctor who spent decades working with local gymnasts and members of the U.S. women’s national team is facing sexual assault charges involving at least one victim younger than 13.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office obtained a felony warrant for Dr. Larry Nassar this morning on three charges of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a person under 13, according to court records. The charges carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.
The alleged abuse took place at Nassar’s home in Holt between 1998 and 2005, according to court records. Megan Hawthorne, a spokesperson for Schuette, declined to say Monday whether the charges are connected to more than one alleged victim.
Ingham County Sheriff’s Office Major Sam Davis confirmed Nassar is in custody.
Matthew Newburg, Nassar’s attorney, said he wasn’t aware of the charges when contacted by a State Journal reporter Monday afternoon. Newburg later said Nassar will be arraigned Tuesday morning in 55th District Court.
Schuette and Michigan State University Police Chief James Dunlap have scheduled a news conference for 1 p.m. Tuesday afternoon to provide “a brief update on the investigation into sexual assault allegations” against Nassar.
Hawthorne also declined to say whether additional charges are expected.
Nassar, 53, is at the center of a burgeoning scandal that has unfolded since the Indianapolis Star published a report in August detailing how USA Gymnastics has handled sexual abuse complaints stretching back decades.
He served as the organization’s team physician during four Olympic games and was a professor in MSU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine, as well as a team physician for the MSU women’s gymnastics and women’s crew teams.
Nassar left USA Gymastics last fall with little notice. The university fired him in September after receiving a number of sexual assault allegations.
Nassar also worked as a team physician at Twistars Gymnastics Club USA and Holt High School. Holt school officials have said they’ve cut off that relationship and that Nassar hasn’t had contact with students this year. John Geddert, owner of Twistars, declined to comment on the issue last month.
MSU officials have said Nassar wasn’t fired specifically because of the allegations, but rather because he failed to comply with “performance requirements” put in place after officials investigated a complaint filed in 2014 by a former MSU student that alleged “abuse during a medical procedure.”
Officials did not find any violations of MSU policy during the university’s investigation into the incident, and no charges were filed.
Numerous former patients — officials have not said how many — came forward with allegations against Nassar after an Indianapolis Star report detailing the accounts of two women who claim he sexually assaulted them during medical examinations.
Multiple lawsuits also have been filed against USA Gymnastics, including one filed last month that claims the organization and former national team coordinators Bela and Martha Karolyi concealed abuse at their training facility in Texas.
USA Gymnastics earlier this month hired a former federal prosecutor to review its handling of sexual misconduct allegations.
Nassar's attorneys have previously said their client “never denied that he used medical techniques involving vaginal penetration” and provided police with information about the techniques.
“Any allegations that Dr. Nassar was performing these procedures for any purpose other than proper medical treatment are patently false and untrue,” attorneys said in the statement released in September.
Despite the allegations, Nassar received more than 2,700 votes in the race for Holt school board — about 21% of the total. It wasn’t enough to win a seat, and Nassar told the State Journal before the election he was no longer pursuing the position. His name still appeared on the ballot because the deadline to withdraw had passed.
(2016 © Lansing State Journal)