The legal reckoning with Larry Nassar’s years of sexual abuse isn’t over.
Nassar, the longtime former team doctor for USA Gymnastics and faculty member at Michigan State University, will return to court Wednesday morning for sentencing in Eaton County, Michigan, where he has pleaded guilty to three counts of criminal sexual conduct.
The Michigan attorney general’s office said 57 victims are expected to speak out in court about Nassar’s abuse, according to Eaton County Court Administrator Beryl Frenger.
The court has already set aside three days for victim impact statements, and the hearing is expected to go into next week to give each victim time to speak, Frenger said.
The sentencing in Eaton County is likely to be similar to the remarkable victim impact statements in nearby Ingham County over the past two weeks.
There, more than 150 young women spoke to the court — and a rapt American public — about how Nassar used his position of influence to molest young girls.
This week’s court appearance will be Nassar’s third criminal sentencing hearing in the last few months.
Nassar pleaded guilty to seven counts of criminal sexual conduct in Ingham County and was sentenced last week to 40 to 175 years in prison. He also pleaded guilty to child pornography charges in federal court and was sentenced in December to 60 years in prison.
Special prosecutor appointed
The Eaton County hearing comes amid a widening inquiry into how the institutions in charge failed to stop the abuse for so long. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette appointed a special prosecutor Saturday to investigate “every corner” of Michigan State, and several organizations have initiated investigations of USA Gymnastics.
Eaton County is home to Twistars, the gymnastics club where Nassar and legendary gymnastics coach John Geddert worked together. Geddert, who coached the gold medal-winning women’s gymnastics team at the 2012 Olympics, was suspended by USA Gymnastics last week.
Schuette said that holding this sentencing hearing in Eaton County will “ensure that every voice of every survivor” is heard.
“If we have learned anything from the Nassar sentencing in Lansing, it’s that too many voices of too many victims had been unheard for too long,” Schuette said of the Ingham cases.
Fallout at MSU and other institutions
For more than two decades, Nassar was a respected doctor who worked closely with the US Olympic women’s gymnastics teams, young athletes at Michigan State and girls at the Twistars gymnastics club.
But as part of a plea deal, Nassar admitted in court to abusing young women under the guise of providing medical treatment during that lengthy period.
Several women said they reported his abuse to coaches, trainers and adults at USA Gymnastics and Michigan State. They said their concerns were ignored or improperly investigated and his abuse continued unabated.
That finally changed in 2016 when The Indianapolis Star spoke to Rachael Denhollander and published an article documenting Nassar’s abuse. More than 150 women have since come forward with similar stories, including Olympic gold medalists Aly Raisman, Simone Biles and McKayla Maroney.
Since then, Nassar has faced a series of criminal charges and civil lawsuits and will assuredly spend the rest of his life in prison.
“I just signed your death warrant,” Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina said in announcing his sentence last week.
USA Gymnastics and Michigan State have denied wrongdoing, and USA Gymnastics said it reported the allegations to authorities when it learned about the sexual abuse.
The university maintains that no official there believed Nassar committed sexual abuse until newspapers began reporting on the allegations in the summer of 2016.
Nassar’s crimes have had significant repercussions at Michigan State, USA Gymnastics, the US Olympic Committee and Twistars. The university’s president and athletic director resigned, and the committee’s chief executive called on all USA Gymnastics board members to resign.