Nassar’s attorneys ask judge to hold AG in contempt over gag order

Attorney General Bill Schuette

LANSING, MI (WLNS) – Larry Nassar’s attorneys are asking a judge to hold the Michigan Attorney General in contempt for failing to follow a court order which would prevent potential witnesses from making public comments.

The request comes in the form of a motion, which was filed Friday afternoon.

It also asks the judge to stop some of the witnesses, who have spoken publicly, from taking the stand during his trial, due to the gag order that’s in place.

The former MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor is accused of using his position as a doctor to sexually abuse young women and girls under the guise of medical treatment.

Nassar has maintained his innocence in all of the cases against him in state court, but earlier this month, he plead guilty to three child pornography charges in federal court.

Due to the extensive amount of media coverage surrounding the allegations against Nassar, his attorneys, Matthew Newburg and Shannon Smith, filed a motion earlier this year to limit the amount of public disclosure in an effort to give Nassar a fair trial.

The court ordered the attorneys in the criminal case to let any potential witnesses know about the gag order and tell them not to make any public comments.

“The defense, to date, is only aware of the identity of some of the potential witnesses,” the motion says. “The defense could not have predicted who the order should have been served upon. On the contrary, the prosecution has had access to all of the complainants and their identities.”

The motion goes on to say that the prosecution had the benefit of knowing who it intends to call at trial.

“Rather than list those individuals, however, the Attorney General waited until their witnesses Saturated the media further which would have been a violation of this court’s order and delayed in naming them as witnesses,” it says.

Nassar’s defense argues that it received a list of six new witnesses this month, who the prosecution plans to call at trial.

The motion says that while their names were not identified, the defense could determine that these witnesses have already given public interviews discussing the allegations against Nassar.

According to the documents, the Attorney General signed a stipulation in April that said he would not enforce the court’s order.

“The gamesmanship by the Attorney General flies in the face of the judicial process and the protections embodied in the constitution. The Attorney General agreed not to enforce this court’s order and let the witnesses they plan to call at trial taint the entire process in which this court sought to protect.”

6 News reached out to the Attorney General’s office for comment but it declined due to the gag order.

It goes on to say, “With the stroke of a pen, the Attorney General made a mockery of this court’s final order, took actions to circumvent and sidestep the binding order, and sealed Defendant Nassar’s fate by permanently denying him a right to a fair trial.”

Nassar’s defense also argues that it had no way to serve the witnesses with the order due to the fact that it would not know who the prosecution intended to call out of the more than 100 complainants against Nassar.

It also says that the Attorney General entered into an agreement with Rachael Denhollander, Jamie Dantzscher and 80 other people that they would not enforce this order.

“The Attorney General, fully aware of this court’s order prohibiting pretrial statements, sat back and watched as witness after witness slowly eroded Nassar’s presumption of innocence with each public statement they made,” the motion says.

Attorney John Manly, who represents dozens of women in a civil lawsuit released the following statement after the motion was filed:

“Dr. Nassar and his attorneys would like nothing more than to silence Jaime Dantzscher, Rachael Denhollander and more than 140 other women and girls who have had the courage to step forward and report that he sexually assaulted them. Fortunately, the First Amendment right of these women to speak publicly about their abuse is not superseded by the rights of a convicted sex criminal. Freedom to speak about their abuse is essential to the healing of these brave women and that freedom is guaranteed by our Constitution and laws. I am confident that the courts will protect these rights and defeat this despicable  attempt to silence my clients.”

Nassar’s trial in Ingham County is scheduled to start the first week of December.

He faces more than 20 first-degree criminal sexual conduct charges in Ingham and Eaton counties.

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