Nassar’s lawyers want court to limit witness, attorney comments

LANSING, MI (WLNS) – Larry Nassar’s defense team has filed a motion to limit public disclosure by witnesses and their attorneys on the case against the former MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor.

The motion, filed Monday, says there’s been an ongoing concern about Nassar’s right to a fair trial and the people’s right to a fair trial throughout the proceedings due to media attention and commentary by others.

Nassar is currently behind bars facing more than 20 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. In addition to the state charges, he also faces federal child pornography charges.

Nassar’s attorneys Matt Newburg and Shannon Smith declined to comment on the filing.

Ingham County Circuit Judge Rosemarie Aquilina will hear the matter on Wednesday.

To date, nearly 80 women and girls have been added to a federal lawsuit against Nassar in civil court. That number has grown since it was first filed back in January.

This isn’t the first time Nassar’s attorneys have filed a motion to ensure their client gets a fair trial.

Earlier this month, a judge granted the defense’s motion to limit the amount of public disclosure in the sexual assault investigation against Nassar.

It includes the Attorney General and lawyers who are working the case against him.

It comes in the form of a stipulated order that says none of the lawyers appearing in this case can express their opinion on the investigation as it continues.

Just last week, Nassar’s defense team filed a motion to disqualify an Eaton County judge who “liked” a Facebook post about the case.

The judge recused herself shortly after. It has since been assigned to Eaton County District Judge Julie Reincke.

In Monday’s filing it says “the defense has serious concerns about the actions and communications of the civil attorneys involved in this case because they have compromised Nassar’s ability to have a fair trial with due process.”

The 66-page motion asks for a narrowly tailored order to address the issue. The defense team says it would help the press avoid publishing materials with quotes and accounts from those involved in the case that would likely influence a jury.

In this particular case, Nassar is charged with three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with one alleged victim.

In three other cases, he faces 13 counts of criminal sexual conduct involving three other alleged victims from Eaton County, and 23 counts of criminal sexual conduct involving seven alleged victims from Ingham County.

“The conduct of the witnesses and some of the civil lawyers over the past few weeks have eviscerated Nassar’s ability to have a fair trial and have trampled on his due process rights,” the filing says. “An order limiting disclosure by the attorneys and witnesses is critical at this time.”

The attorneys who represent alleged victims in this case don’t necessarily agree.

“Shocked and appalled that the motion would be brought to attempt to silence survivors who were silenced by MSU as far back as 1997,” Attorney David Mittleman said. He’s with Church Wyble, a division of Grewal Law, a firm that represents dozens of women and girls.

One of those alleged victims is a former gymnast named Larissa Boyce.

“Sexual assault is something that isn’t easy to talk about and I want to change that,” she said.

On Monday, she revealed her identity for the first time to 6 News, along with a father of a 15 year-old teen who’s also accusing Nassar of sexual assault. Something their attorneys say they have a right to do.

“There are rights that he survivors have and one of the rights is to be able to speak out, empower other survivors,” Mittleman said. “It’s therapeutic for them.”

“We have not been served with the motion,” Attorney Jamie White said. “We were not noticed of the motion and we are not a party to that proceeding.”

White also represents more than a dozen alleged victims who say Nassar sexually abused them.

“We all have a right to speak freely right?  And that goes without saying, there are exceptions to that..especially if you’re apart of that party to the proceedings, which we are not,” White said. “What’s most disturbing about this motion is on it’s face they’re asking to silence the victims..young women who have been quiet for years..they finally find the courage to speak out about this.”

The filing details a number of concerns when it comes to the amount of public disclosure including Facebook posts by attorneys who represent clients in the case.

“The ongoing commentary by some of the civil lawyers has been misleading and inappropriate,” it says.

It also details concerns with an MSU Title IX investigation report that was released by a civil lawyer that wouldn’t have otherwise been released to the media at this time through the Freedom of Information Act.

The filing names a long list of Facebook comments made by Mittleman.

It says inflammatory remarks have been made about the case that is “designed to garner outrage by the public.”

In addition to Facebook posts, it also references a news conference, which was held by Mittleman and Mick Grewal.

Jamie White, a local attorney who is also representing more than a dozen clients in the case against Nassar, is also named.

“White has publicly criticized the defense in criminal cases,” it says.

The motion asks for the following:

  • Order the civil attorneys to return the unredacted transcripts to the court immediately or provide an affidavit to the court indicating that all copies of transcript have been destroyed
  • Order the civil attorneys be required to maintain the confidentiality regarding the complainant and not disseminate the transcript to the public or any other media outlets
  • Enter an order limiting witnesses and their counsel from disclosing information and commentary concerning any case involving Nassar to the public and media
  • Grant all other relief this court deems fair, just and appropriate.

A hearing on this matter will take place on Wednesday at 8:30 a.m.

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