LANSING, MI (WLNS) – Larry Nassar’s sentencing date in federal court has been moved to the first week of December and his defense team has filed a number of motions to ensure he still receives a fair trial in state court.
The former MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor pleaded guilty to three child pornography charges in federal court in July. He was set to be sentenced on November 27th.
In addition to the federal case, Nassar also faces 23 first degree criminal sexual conduct charges in Ingham and Eaton Counties.
He’s accused of using his position as a doctor to sexually abuse young women and girls who sought him for medical treatment at locations including MSU, Twistars, and his home in Holt. Nassar has maintained his innocence in all of the state cases against him.
In September, the court changed Nassar’s sentencing date from the last week of November to December 7th.
Jury selection for his state cases was set to happen on December 4th, with opening statements the first week of January.
Nassar’s attorneys Matt Newburg and Shannon Smith filed a number of motions today, including a request to adjourn jury selection to change the dates relating to his state cases, in an effort to make sure Nassar gets a fair trial.
“Taking a break just three days into jury selection so Defendant and Undersigned Counsel can attend the federal sentencing will not be adequate to preserve Defendant’s constitutional right to a fair trial and impartial jury,” the motion says. “
The motion goes on to say that if the court does not accept these changes, Nassar’s right to a fair trial will be placed in “obvious” and “serious jeopardy.”
Due to the amount of media interest, Nassar’s defense team says juror’s opinions and responses to “voir dire” (the jury’s pre-trial questioning) will likely change based on the “inevitable media attention and unavoidable local attention to Defendant’s sentencing.”
The motion says the federal sentencing date may impact the ability of the parties to reach a resolution in this matter. It’s asking for the court to extend the plea cutoff date.
If granted by the court, jury selection would begin on January 8, 2018.
The second motion filed today, asks the court to extend the deadline for attorneys to file motions. In August, the court ordered that all motions be filed no later than October 13, with motions being heard on November 3rd.
The motion says Nassar’s defense team picked up discovery for the case just this week on Oct. 6th and began reviewing it on Oct. 9th. “There are a significant number of documents and videos and text messages to review,” it says.
The defense team received discovery including interviews of prospective witnesses and complainants, a CD-ROM containing results of a Google search warrant, a CD-ROM containing videos of appointments with one complainant, and two flash drives.
“There is no possibility that the undersigned counsel can review all of this material before the motion filing deadline much less draft and file motions,” the motion says. “This threshold cannot be met in just 5 days.”
According to the motion, the complexity of the case and the number of law enforcement agencies that possess a number of items, has delayed discovery.
Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina will hear the motions filed today on October 25th.
Nassar’s attorneys declined to comment.
The motion says the Attorney General’s Office does not object to extending the deadline to file motions. A spokesperson for the AG’s office confirmed it is not objecting to the additional time.
In addition to the criminal cases against him, Nassar also faces a civil lawsuit filed by more than 120 women and girls.
Michigan State University, USA Gymnastics, Twistars Gymnastics Club and its owner, John Geddert, are all named as co-defendants in that case.
Right now, it’s still in a mediation phase, which was agreed to by 18 attorneys at a hearing in Grand Rapids in August.