Guilty plea brings part of the federal case against Larry Nassar to a close, opens door to decades in prison

GRAND RAPIDS, MI (WLNS) – During a plea hearing in federal court Tuesday morning, Larry Nassar admitted to having 37,000 videos and images of child pornography and destroying computer evidence of it during an ongoing police investigation.

Until now, the former MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor has maintained his innocence in all cases against him in state and federal courts.

The 53 year-old pleaded guilty to three counts including the receipt and possession of child pornography, and destruction and concealment of records.

This is just one of four criminal cases against Nassar. He also faces more than two-dozen sexual assault charges in Ingham and Eaton counties.

His attorney’s, Matt Newburg and Shannon Smith spoke to reporters shortly after the hearing.

“Dr. Nassar’s position on the state cases has not changed and we intend to proceed to trial,” Newburg said.

“The plea today was negotiated only to resolve the federal charges,” Smith added.

In exchange for Nassar’s guilty plea, federal prosecutors agreed not to charge him with sexual exploitation or attempted sexual exploitation of children stemming from an incident that allegedly happened in Nassar’s swimming pool back in 2015.

In addition, the U.S. Attorney’s office will not pursue charges brought by Team USA Gymnasts who say Nassar sexually molested them as they competed in international competitions.

Nassar continues to deny those allegations.

“I think one concern in general with the clients is that this plea agreement decides not to prosecute the more serious charges that carry 15 years to life so you have 2 to 3, 20 year charges whether it’ll be consecutive or not, but they want to make sure in coming forward that…and this is not easy for them…that he does not get out of jail or prison and be able to do this again supervised or not,” Stephen Drew said. He represents dozens of women, including former Team USA Gymnasts who accuse Nassar of sexual abuse.

But even without those cases moving forward, a judge can still consider those charges when deciding how long Nassar will spend behind bars.

Nassar’s sentence, which the judge is set to hand down this fall, could range from 22 to 60 years.

As part of the plea agreement, Nassar also has to pay restitution to four alleged victims and register as a sex offender.

It’s important to note, that this criminal case does not affect the three other state criminal cases against Nassar, where several women and girls accuse him of sexually abusing them during medical appointments at MSU, his home in Holt, and Twistars Gymnastics Club in Dimondale.

Jason Cody, a spokesperson for Michigan State University, released the following statement after Tuesday’s hearing:

“As the plea agreement reached July 11 on the federal charges facing former MSU doctor Larry Nassar shows, his behavior was deeply disturbing and repugnant. It was through the hard and diligent work of the MSU Police Department that led to Nassar’s arrest and conviction on the federal charges. We are grateful for all of the law enforcement efforts put forth by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Michigan and the FBI. This cooperation was vital to this investigation.”

MSU Police Chief Jim Dunlap, whose department led to Nassar’s arrest on federal charges, also released the following statement:

“I am very pleased with the outstanding investigative efforts of the MSU Police Department’s Special Victims Unit and the Digital Forensics and Cyber Crime Unit, who recovered and analyzed the evidence in these cases. It is important to note that today’s federal plea does not impact the pending criminal sexual conduct cases in Michigan, which are currently being prosecuted by the Michigan Attorney General.”

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