Former US Gymnastics Doctor Admits Guilt in Sex Abuse Case

22 November, 2017

A former USA Gymnastics doctor has told a court in the United States that he is guilty of sexual assault connected to his work with the national gymnastics organization and Michigan State University.

The man, Larry Nassar, now faces at least 25 years in prison.

He admitted to abusing seven girls at his home and in a Michigan State medical office. Six of them were gymnasts under his medical care. The abuse took place during what Nassar had called pain-relieving treatments.

Nassar faces similar accusations in other cases in criminal and civil courts. More than 125 women and girls are taking legal action against him. A federal court is also considering what to sentence Nassar for a child pornography conviction.

In April, American medical officials permanently barred Nassar from serving as a doctor.

American Olympic gymnasts Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Gabby Douglas are among the women who have publicly said they were Nassar's victims. All three women were on the gold medal-winning Olympic team in 2012. Raisman and Douglas also won gold with the team in the 2016 games.

U.S. gymastics team members, from right, McKayla Maroney, Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman ride a float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Nov. 22, 2012.
U.S. gymastics team members, from right, McKayla Maroney, Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman ride a float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Nov. 22, 2012.

Douglas, who also won the 2012 Olympic all-around gold medal, confirmed on Tuesday that she was among Nassar's victims.

Raisman discussed the abuse earlier this month in a television interview on the news program 60 Minutes. She was highly critical of the way USA Gymnastics dealt with reports of sexual abuse.

USA Gymnastics is also facing legal action, as is Michigan State and the United States Olympic Committee.

Maroney wrote about her abuse last month on Twitter, as part of the #MeToo social media movement.

In a statement Wednesday, USA Gymnastics said "We admire the strength shown by Gabby and her teammates in speaking out publicly to hold a predator accountable....We are very sorry that any athlete has been harmed during her or his gymnastics career."

On Wednesday, Nassar admitted to putting his fingers inside of the victims. He said his actions had no real medical purpose and that he did not have the girls' permission.

The decision at the court in Ingham County, Michigan, requires a prison sentence of at least 25 years. A judge could sentence Nassar to as many 40 years, however.

Sentencing is set for January 12.

Judge Rosemarie Aquilina told Nassar Wednesday: "You used your position of trust ... in the most vile way to abuse children."

She called the accusers "superheroes for all of America, because this is an epidemic." By epidemic, she means childhood sexual abuse affects a large number of people.

After the hearing, one of the accusers, Larissa Boyce, said it was "really hard" to look at Nassar in the courtroom.

"This was a man we trusted. He's admitting what he did was wrong and evil," Boyce said.

The Associated Press reported this story. Ashley Thompson adapted it for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.


Words in This Story

relieve - v. to reduce or remove (something, such as pain or an unpleasant feeling)

pornography - n. movies, pictures, magazines, etc., that show or describe naked people or sex in a very open and direct way in order to cause sexual excitement

admire - v. to feel respect or approval for (someone or something)

predator - n. a person who looks for other people in order to use, control, or harm them in some way

accountable - adj. required to be responsible for something

vile - adj. evil or immoral