Feds seek 60-year prison sentence for Larry Nassar

GRAND RAPIDS, MI (WLNS) – Calling him an “immense threat to the community,” the United States Attorney General’s office said Larry Nassar should spend 60 years in prison for the child pornography charges he pleaded guilty to earlier this year.

In a pre-sentencing memo filed Thursday, federal prosecutors asked Judge Janet Neff to consider the 60 years saying “the defendant has justly earned it, given the scope and seriousness of his conduct. This sentence will also appropriately promote respect for the law.”

The former MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor is set to be sentenced in Grand Rapids federal court on December 7th.

“He sexually abused and exploited children for his own gratification for 20 years. He did so at almost every turn,” federal prosecutors said.

In the sentencing request filed Thursday, federal prosecutors said between 2003 and 2016, Nassar knowingly downloaded and possessed thousands of images and videos of child pornography.

The former doctor collected in excess of 37,000 images of child pornography which depicts children as young as infants. The material also includes images and videos of prepubescent children being raped by male adults, performing oral sex, and engaging in other sex acts.

“In mid-September 2016, the defendant engaged in a campaign to destroy and conceal evidence,” the memo said. “He did so because he was aware there was an expanding investigation into his sexual activity with and interest in children, he was aware his devices contained child pornography and other evidence of sexual exploitation of children.”

The sentencing guideline range agreed to in the plea is set to 22 to 27 years in prison.

Nassar’s attorneys, Matthew Newburg and Shannon Smith, also filed a memo Thursday to paint the picture of a man that has not been seen in testimonies and court records so far.

“While Mr. Nassar wishes he could rewind the hands of time and make different choices, he realizes that this is not possible,” it said. “Nevertheless, Mr. Nassar has already done much soul searching about his life, and he is using this time to engage in continued growth.”

While his attorneys did not request a specific sentence, they said Nassar will “Use his experiences – both good and bad – to make positive changes in his life.”

It goes on to say “Mr. Nassar is committed to ensuring that his choices result in him living a life free from the criminal justice system in the future.”

Several of Nassar’s family members including his sister and brother-in-law wrote letters to the judge as well.

“Larry has always been kind hearted and helpful to anyone that came into his path,” his cousin wrote. “He has always been there to volunteer and to serve others. If you needed help, he would pitch in cheerfully.”

Nassar’s sister-in-law wrote about how he helped her through the death of her husband. (Nassar’s brother)

“Larry’s heart is big,” it said. “I have always seen him put others first and a strong desire to give back to society.”

Nassar’s sister wrote about his community and church involvement.

“Larry taught Sunday school, and worked with young married couples with his wife in the church setting,” it said.

It goes on to say that Nassar helped her through her husband’s stroke by comforting her and offering medical advice.

“Larry was the ultimate volunteer,” she wrote. “He never charged for any of his services.”

Nassar’s brother-in-law wrote about Larry’s devotion to his children and family, specifically pointing out Larry’s “special devotion” to his Autistic daughter.

“He has spent untold hours helping her to improve, taking her to a specialist physician every weekend, and to her favorite place… the animal petting farm,” it says. “He formed a non-profit Autism Foundation to help kids with the affliction, and expanded to help other special needs kids as well.”

Nassar’s brother-in-law said Larry was “instrumental” in getting three inmates to complete their GED.

“Another one of Larry’s roommates had a severe, painful ankle injury that was ongoing for the past 6 months,” it said. “Larry was able to help his cellmate by doing what he does best and the pain was gone. He became known as the “Miracle Doctor” with the Spanish inmates.

It goes on to say that Nassar “helped another inmate reach out to his son in a positive manner.”

Separate from the federal case, Nassar already faces up to life in prison in Ingham and Eaton counties after pleading guilty to sexual assault charges last month.

As part of a plea deal with prosecutors, his minimum sentence will be anywhere between 25 and 40 years in prison.

In addition to the criminal cases against him, Nassar is also named in a civil lawsuit along with MSU, USA Gymnastics, and Twistars Gymnastics Club, where the former doctor either worked or treated patients for several years.

More than 130 women and girls have been added to that lawsuit since last year. It remains in mediation.

In an order filed Thursday, Judge Neff denied a request to allow six unnamed victims to make in-person impact statements during his sentencing. All six said Nassar sexually assaulted them when they were minors.

“The Court will fully take the conduct suffered by these victims into account in sentencing Defendant on the convictions before the Court” the order said.

It goes on to say, “The Court’s decision on the Government’s motion is by no means intended to deny these victims—of clearly horrific conduct—a voice. Their statements deserve to be heard, in the appropriate forum, at the proper time.”

The order goes on to say that the court has concern is that “we don’t want to lose sight of the many other, countless and perhaps unknown victims of Defendant’s conduct underlying the federal charges.”

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