Judge to attorneys: No more public comments on Nassar case

A Lansing judge is putting limits on what prosecutors and defense attorneys can say publicly about the criminal cases against former Michigan State University sports doctor Larry Nassar.

LANSING, MICH. - Attorney General Bill Schuette and other attorneys connected to Larry Nassar's criminal cases in state courts have been barred from making public statements or expressing opinions about the cases if there's a "reasonable likelihood" the remarks could interfere with a fair trial.

The restraint comes in the form of a stipulated order filed by one of Nassar's attorneys, Matt Newburg, and Angela Povilaitis, the assistant attorney general prosecuting Nassar. The order was signed on Monday by Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, who was assigned Nassar's first sexual assault case.

Aquilina signed the order less than two weeks after Newburg filed a motion in 55th District Court in Mason, calling for limited public disclosure and saying that Schuette's comments about Nassar during news conferences and on Twitter were "improper" and "inflammatory." Schuette's comments — which included calling Nassar a "monster" — and other public disclosures of information or opinion could violate Nassar's rights to fair trial, due process and an impartial jury, Newburg wrote in his March 2 motion.

Newburg declined to comment.

Andrea Bitely, a spokeswoman for Schuette, said such orders are common in high-profile cases and the judicial process will continue to more forward.

The order does not relate to attorneys, plaintiffs or defendants in the more than five civil lawsuits against Nassar, Michigan State University or USA Gymnastics. Nassar, an osteopathic physician, worked for decades at MSU and with USA Gymnastics. The university fired him in September. He left USA Gymnastics in fall 2015 with little notice.

The order limits the attorneys in the criminal cases, "persons associated with them (including any persons with supervisory authority over them)" and all court personnel from releasing information, statements or documents about the case that are not in public records.

Attorneys are still allowed, according to the order, to announce "without elaboration the scheduling or result of any step in the judicial process."

Nassar, 53, of Holt, faces 28 charges split between federal and state courts.

He faces 25 sexual assault charges in state courts, with 22 directly relating to his role as a doctor. Those charges are split between district courts in Ingham and Eaton counties. The other three sexual assault charges, those assigned to Aquilina's courtroom, already have been moved from the district court to circuit court level. Hearings to determine whether the newest criminal charges will go forward have been set for May in Ingham County and June in Eaton County.

Nassar also faces three federal charges for obtaining, possessing or destroying videos or images or child pornography. He is being held in federal custody with no bond.

Nassar also is being sued by more than 60 women and girls in state and federal courts. MSU and USA Gymnastics are facing several lawsuits in connection with Nassar that include more than 55 women and girls who say in court documents that Nassar sexually assaulted them during medical appointments.

More: Here’s a timeline of Nassar’s decades-long career and the allegations against him. This will continue to be updated.

Many of the women or girls say in court documents that the assaults included digital vaginal or anal penetration without gloves, consent, lubrication or prior notice.

Nassar, through his attorneys, has denied any wrongdoing and said he performed legitimate medical procedures.

Lansing State Journal


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