State wants to terminate Larry Nassar's parental rights

Nassar's parental rights terminated

LANSING, MICH. - The state has moved to terminate Larry Nassar's parental rights.

The petition to do so adds yet another legal proceeding for Nassar, the former Michigan State University doctor who has been accused of sexual assault by more than 95 women and girls.

The Michigan Department of Health & Human Services filed its petition in Ingham County Circuit Court. It cited testimony from an FBI agent in December and conversations with local law enforcement about sexual assault allegations against Nassar, according to testimony Friday morning during a hearing on the petition. 

Shannon Smith, one of Nassar's attorneys, said during the hearing that the petition wasn't appropriate and that "absolutely nothing" in the state's petition or contained in criminal charges includes allegations that Nassar abused any of his three children.

John Frawley, the attorney for Nassar's wife, said he didn't think the state's petition was needed and that a judge has already granted his client sole legal and physical custody as part of divorce proceedings. Stefanie Nassar filed for divorce in Ingham County Circuit Court in January. The state is not seeking to terminate her parental rights. 

Chief Attorney Referee Megan Mertens ruled there was probable cause to authorize the petition's filing and set a hearing date before Circuit Court Judge Laura Baird. Despite the order in the divorce case, Mertens authorized the petition's filing, saying probable cause had been met and there could be a risk to the children in the future, depending on the outcome of the criminal cases.

The FBI testimony included in the petition relates to videos that law enforcement found after a search of Nassar's property. An FBI agent testified that some videos show Nassar sexually assaulting young girls in or near a pool. He has not been charged related to those videos, but does face federal charges related to the more than 37,000 images and videos of child pornography officials said they found. 

Nassar, 53, of Holt, faces 28 criminal charges split between state and federal courts, including 22 sexual assault charges split between Ingham and Eaton counties related to his role as a doctor. He also faces three sexual assault charges unrelated to his role as a doctor. The state's petition is considered a civil, not criminal, proceeding.

Nassar is being held without bond on the federal charges.

To date, more than 95 women and girls have filed lawsuits against Nassar, MSU or USA Gymnastics. In addition to his decades at MSU, Nassar worked as a team doctor for several U.S. women's gymnastics teams who competed at the Olympics or World Championships. 

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© 2017 Lansing State Journal


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