Federal judge strikes down Nassar “gag order” – for now

FILE - In this Friday, Feb. 17, 2017, file photo, Dr. Larry Nassar listens to testimony of a witness during a preliminary hearing, in Lansing, Mich. The former sports doctor at Michigan State University who specialized in treating gymnasts has been charged with sexual assault. Dr. Nassar was charged Wednesday, Feb. 22, in two Michigan counties. Online records show he's facing nine charges in Ingham county, including first-degree criminal sexual conduct against a victim under age 13. Nassar had a clinic at Michigan State, where he treated members of the gymnastics team and younger regional gymnasts. (Robert Killips/Lansing State Journal via AP, File)

Attorneys and others are once again free to talk about the Larry Nassar case – at least temporarily.

That’s after a federal judge put a “gag order” approved by an Ingham County judge on hold.

Attorneys for Nassar – the former MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor charged with sexual assault and child pornography – sought to limit public comment earlier this month because they say it limited their client’s right to a fair trial.

Nassar faces some two dozen 1st degree criminal sexual conduct charges after prosecutors say he molested women and girls – most of whom were his patients. He also faces federal child pornography charges and civil lawsuits by dozens of plaintiffs.

That gag order, which effectively stopped attorneys and others from discussing his case, was approved by Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina.

But federal judge Janet Neff agreed to a temporary restraining order on Friday, putting Aquilina’s order on hold.

In her ruling, the judge agreed that many of the people affected by the order didn’t have time or the opportunity to contest it in court. Neff also agreed with attorneys who said the order was “unconstitutionally vague” – and that she thought they had a strong chance of winning that argument in court. Attorneys also argued that stopping victims from talking might stop other people from coming forward.

The order against the gag rule is just temporary. All sides will be back in court for a hearing on Tuesday, April 18th in Grand Rapids.

Stay tuned to 6 News as we continue to cover this developing story.

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