Larry Nassar's attorneys seek to move his trial, delay its start

Nassar's lawyers seek to move trial

LANSING, MICH. - Larry Nassar's lawyers want his trial on sexual abuse charges to be held in another location. On Friday, a change in venue request was among nine motions filed in Ingham County Circuit Court by the defense team of the former MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor.

Nassar's attorneys said in their court filings that media reports and social media posts, including a Twitter statement this week from former 2012 Olympic gold medal gymnast McKayla Maroney, are among factors that will make it difficult for him to get a fair trial.

"It is difficult to conceive of a case that has generated more widespread, inflammatory and sustained media coverage than the case against Defendant Nassar," his attorneys wrote in the motion. "Local media outlets have published between 160-200 stories involving Defendant Nassar and that number has rapidly increased over the past few days."

That was an apparent reference to coverage of Maroney, now 21, who wrote on Wednesday on Twitter that Nassar started assaulting her when she was 13. Maroney's nine-paragraph statement and her Twitter hashtag #MeToo drew national headlines. It's not known if she is among the 140 women and girls, most of whom have not been publicly identified, who have filed federal lawsuits saying they were assaulted by Nassar.

►More: Olympian McKayla Maroney says Larry Nassar began molesting her at age 13
►More: Why #MeToo is taking over your social media feeds

Nassar faces nearly two dozen criminal sexual conduct charges split between Ingham and Eaton counties.

His federal sentencing on child pornography charges is set for Dec. 7. Those charges involve materials found on computer equipment in a trash bin at his home.

Jury selection for Nassar's Ingham County trial is currently scheduled for the same week, with a plan to pause after three days for the federal sentencing and resume afterward.

As currently scheduled, opening statements in the Ingham County trial would be in January. Nassar's Eaton County trial would take place after proceedings in Ingham County are completed. If convicted on state charges, Nassar could spend up to life in prison.

"The media attention was the most significant involving a criminal defendant in a pending case this state has ever seen," the change of venue motion states.

Matthew Newburg and Shannon Smith, Nassar's attorneys, also filed these motions on Friday:

  • To adjourn trial because the defense is awaiting some 55,000 pages of information from Attorney General Bill Schuette's office and will need time to review it all before the trial begins.
  • To exclude findings from Michigan State University's Office of Institutional Equity, which investigated potential Title IX violations by Nassar. His lawyers argue Nassar wasn't able to cooperate in investigations due to the pending criminal cases and that Title IX cases are decided on a "preponderance of evidence" rather than "beyond a reasonable doubt."
  • To quash four counts of first degree criminal conduct charges for penetrating a person under 13 and seven counts for penetrating a person between the ages of 13 and 16. Nassar's lawyers argue that Michigan's law is "too vague, fails to give defendants adequate notion of what is illegal, overbroad and unconstitutional."
  • To offer evidence of the past sexual history of one of the alleged victims. Nassar's lawyers say they recently learned from documents obtained in discovery that she was sexually assaulted by someone from her church prior to any contact with Nassar and they believe the information is necessary for his defense.
  • For supplemental discovery of medical records for six alleged victims. Nassar's attorneys are seeking records from other health care providers to gather additional information on their medical conditions.
  • For supplemental discovery regarding an alleged victim who claims sexual assaults occurred "almost on a weekly basis" between the ages of six and 12. Nassar's attorneys are seeking access to records of her counseling sessions with a therapist.

A hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m. Nov. 3 before Judge Rosemarie Aquilina to review the motions.  

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