Nassar to appear in federal court Tuesday

Former MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor appears in court

GRAND RAPIDS, MI (WLNS) – Until now, Larry Nassar has maintained his innocence in all cases against him in both state and federal court, but Tuesday, that’s expected to change.

That’s because the former MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor has agreed to plead guilty to child pornography charges in federal court.

The hearing is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. in Grand Rapids. If the court accepts it, there will be no trial for Nassar in August.

According to the plea agreement, Nassar is expected to plead guilty to three charges including receipt and possession of child pornography and destruction and concealment of records.

Each of those charges carries a sentence of up to 20 years and a fine of up to $250,000.

In exchange for Nassar’s guilty plea, federal prosecutors have agreed not to pursue other crimes against him including sexual exploitation and attempted sexual exploitation of children, relating to an incident that allegedly happened in Nassar’s swimming pool in the Summer of 2015.

They also will not prosecute Nassar for interstate and international travel with intent and engaging in illicit sexual conduct that is alleged to have happened between 2006 and 2013.

Many of Nassar’s accusers say they feel betrayed by the federal government.

That’s because part of the plea deal involves prosecutors not pursing a number of charges against Nassar, brought forth by Team USA Gymnasts who accuse him of sexually molesting them at different state and international events.

If the court accepts this plea deal, it could mean Nassar won’t face criminal charges for engaging in the alleged abuse.

“This is criminal activity on a huge scale, spanning decades, involving dozens of victims involving members of numerous U.S. Olympic teams and national teams and he’s going to get away with it,” John Manly said.

The California-based attorney represents more than 100 women who accuse Nassar of sexual abuse.

Nine of them are former gymnasts from the national or Olympic teams.

Manly said the plea deal made between federal prosecutors and Nassar is not only “outrageous” but prohibits his clients from ever having their day in court.

“He molested people at the Olympic games, during competitions, in their beds, and we’re not going to charge him with that?” he said. “What message does that send to others who would do the same thing?”

Among the more than 100 Nassar accusers reacting to the plea deal is Jeannette Antolin.

She was a member of the U.S. National Gymnastics Team from 1995 until 2000.

She told her story on national television a few months ago, saying Nassar repeatedly molested her while she competed for the U.S. in three different countries.

Manly said prosecutors never even spoke to any of the alleged victims first, before accepting a deal.

Antolin said she feels let down.

“It wasn’t, ‘how do you feel about this, do you think it’s fair, it was ‘this is going to happen and this is why,’” Antolin said. “For most of us, our childhood was given to the United States of America to represent our country, and when we need our country to represent us, we get no representation. It just makes me so mad because it’s like, that part of what Larry Nassar did, doesn’t matter. It’s only about the child porn and if the child porn had never been discovered, what would have happened then?”

She said coming forward about the abuse wasn’t easy, but she hoped it would help her heal.

“What people don’t see, is how what Larry Nassar has done, has affected all of us and our entire lives,” Antolin said. “It wasn’t just when we were kids, him touching us, it’s what he has done has affected me as an adult in my day to day life, in my self-esteem, in my relationships.”

Nassar’s attorneys, Matthew Newburg and Shannon Smith declined to comment.

It’s also important to mention that just because there’s a plea agreement, doesn’t mean a judge has to accept it.

This is just one of four criminal cases against Nassar.

He’s facing more than 20 first degree criminal sexual assault charges in Eaton and Ingham counties. A judge ordered him to stand trial in both.

 

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