Nassar to plead guilty in Ingham, Eaton sex assault cases

Nassar to plead guilty to sex assault case in Ingham Co

LANSING, MICH. - Former MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar is expected to plead guilty in both state sexual assault cases.

In the Ingham County case, a plea hearing has been set for 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in Judge Rosemarie Aquilina's courtroom, according to online records.

In the Eaton County case, a plea hearing has been set for 8:30 a.m. on Nov. 29 in front of Judge Janice Cunningham, according to online records. The court administrator confirmed that the hearing had been set.

Matt Newburg, one of Nassar's attorneys, confirmed the Ingham County hearing had been scheduled but declined to comment further due to the gag order in the case. He did not respond to a message seeking confirmation of the Eaton County hearing.

Andrea Bitely, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Attorney General's Office, which is serving as prosecutor for the state charges against Nassar, declined to comment due to the gag order.

The Michigan State University Police Department, citing the gag order, declined to comment.

Nassar, 54, of Holt, faces 15 first-degree criminal sexual conduct charges in Ingham County and seven in Eaton County. The Eaton County charges were scheduled to be tried after the Ingham County case. He faces up to life in prison on the sexual assault charges.

On Dec. 7, Nassar be sentenced on three federal child pornography charges.

He pleaded guilty to those charges in July, and the sentencing guideline range stipulated to in the plea is 22 to 27 years in prison.

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Allegations made public

Nassar worked for decades at Michigan State University and with USA Gymnastics, including work with several Olympic teams.

In September 2016, the Indianapolis Star reported on sexual assault allegations against Nassar from two women. Over the weeks and months that followed, more than 140 women and girls filed lawsuits alleging sexual abuse and at least 120 went to the police.

Nearly all of the sexual assault allegations related to Nassar's role as a doctor and included digital vaginal or anal penetration without gloves or consent. Many of the allegations relate to teenage girls or date back decades.

In November 2016, Nassar was charged with sexually assaulting a young girl in his Holt home from 1998 to 2005. The charges don't relate to his role as a doctor.

In December 2016, Nassar was indicted on federal child pornography charges and an FBI agent later testified that Nassar had at least 37,000 videos and images of child pornography. He pleaded guilty in July.

In February, Nassar was charged with more than 20 sexual assault charges, split between Ingham and Eaton counties, related to his role as a doctor. The Eaton County charges were for reported sexual assaults at Twistars gymnastics club in Dimondale, where Nassar also worked.

The two Ingham County cases were later consolidated into a single case.

Jury selection in the Ingham County case was set to begin Dec. 4, pause for the federal sentencing, and then resume. Opening statements and witness testimony was scheduled to begin in January.

Nassar's attorneys had moved for the trial to be adjourned and moved out of the county, motions that Aquilina denied during a hearing earlier this month. During that hearing she also denied a motion from prosecutors which sought to admit the Nassar's federal child pornography conviction.

Prosecutors and Nassar's attorneys had planned to appeal some of Aquilina's decisions on those and other motions, which could have delayed the trial.

Many of the more than 140 women and girls who filed civil lawsuits did so in federal court and named MSU, USA Gymnastics and Twistars as defendants.

Those lawsuits are currently in a mediation phase, during which a settlement could be reached.

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© 2017 Lansing State Journal


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