DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – Federal prosecutors on Thursday asked for a 60-year prison sentence for a Michigan sports doctor who was caught with child pornography while under investigation for sexually assaulting female gymnasts.
Larry Nassar, 54, who worked at Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics, will be sentenced for child porn crimes on Dec. 7. In the last week, he has pleaded guilty to molesting teens and younger girls with his hands in two other cases in state court.
Nassar “has led a double life,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Lewis said in a court filing. “On the surface, he was a respected, world-renowned expert for elite athletes. He was a medical doctor, a husband and a father. But underneath this veneer lurked a predator.”
Lewis said Nassar “poses an immense risk to the community.”
In July, he pleaded guilty to three charges in federal court in western Michigan, each carrying up to 20 years in prison. Sentences typically run at the same time, but U.S. District Judge Janet Neff can order separate, consecutive punishments.
Nassar’s attorneys didn’t make a specific recommendation in their memo but asked Neff for a “just sentence.”
“While Mr. Nassar wishes he could rewind the hands of time and make different choices, he realizes that this is not possible. … He deeply regrets the pain that he has caused the community, as well as his family and friends,” Shannon Smith and Matthew Newburg said.
Investigators found more than 37,000 images of child porn on Nassar’s electronic devices. He acknowledged that he dumped computer hard drives in the trash and paid $49 to have a laptop’s memory wiped clean to obstruct investigators who were hearing allegations about sexual assault.
The hard drives were discovered only because the trash truck in Nassar’s neighborhood was late one day.
“To be clear, this defendant amassed an enormous collection of abominable images of children being sexually abused, raped and degraded,” Lewis said.
Nassar pleaded guilty Wednesday to assaulting three girls at a Lansing-area gymnastics club while they sought treatment for injuries. He made a similar guilty plea last week, admitting that he molested girls at his Michigan State clinic and his home. Meanwhile, more than 100 women and girls are suing him.
The criminal cases against Nassar followed reports last year in The Indianapolis Star about how USA Gymnastics mishandled complaints about sexual misconduct involving the doctor and coaches. Women and girls said the stories inspired them to step forward with detailed allegations of abuse. Olympic gymnasts Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Gabby Douglas are among the women who have publicly said they were among Nassar’s victims.
The girls have testified that Nassar molested them while they sought help for gymnastics injuries, sometimes when a parent was present in the room. Many of the allegations are the same: During the course of Nassar’s treatments, the doctor inserted “his bare, ungloved and unlubricated hand” into the victim’s vagina.
“I was all alone with him in his hotel room getting a ‘treatment.’ I thought I was going to die that night,” Maroney wrote on Twitter, detailing her alleged abuse.
When one woman reported Nassar’s disturbing “treatments” to MSU training staff, she was allegedly told that Nassar was a world-renowned doctor and that his “inter‐vaginal adjustments” were legitimate medical treatments. The incidents took place at his Michigan State clinic, his home in Holt and at a Lansing-area gymnastics club. Some allegations go back to 1998.
Nassar was fired from Michigan State University in September 2016, and USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians, cut ties in 2015.
© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.