Former Team USA Gymnastics Doctor Sentenced to 60 Years in Prison for Child Pornography Crimes
A federal judge on Thursday sentenced disgraced former Team USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar to 60 years in prison for possessing thousands of images of child pornography, according to the Lansing State Journal and other outlets.
U.S. District Judge Janet Neff announced the sentence, which marks the first of three prison terms being imposed on Nassar for child porn crimes or sexual abuse. The child pornography violations emerged after Michigan State University officials launched a sexual assault investigation in August 2016 after former gymnast Rachael Denhollander accused him of abusing her as a teen.
In July, Nassar pleaded guilty to three child pornography charges in federal court, ABC News reported via ESPN. Under the terms of a plea agreement signed at the time, Nassar could receive a minimum sentence of 27 years. But, recently, prosecutors have asked the court to give Nassar 60 years, ESPN reports.
“I tried to improve myself. I lost everything because of this … I chose wrongly,” he told the court on Thursday, according to the Detroit News. “I really tried to be a good person. I really tried to help people.”
After the hearing, his attorneys Matt Newburg and Shannon Smith spoke to reporters, with Newburg saying Nassar is “devastated” by the sentencing, the Lansing State Journal reports.
“I definitely believe he’s remorseful,” Smith said. “I have no doubt about that.”
Gymnast McKayla Maroney, who accused Nassar of sexual abuse in October, gave a victim impact statement to the judge, detailing the abuse she allegedly suffered at Nassar’s hands. She requested the maximum sentence for Nassar in her letter and was spotted entering the courtroom Thursday morning, per the Lansing State Journal.
“He abused my trust, abused my body and left scars on my psyche that may never heal,” Maroney told the court in her letter. “Larry Nassar deserves to spend the rest of his life in prison.”
She and her mother, Erin, detailed an incident that allegedly occurred in 2011 when Maroney competed in the world championships in Tokyo.
“[Nassar] drugged her, made her lay nude on a treatment table, straddled her and digitally penetrated her while rubbing his erect penis against her,” Erin wrote. “She was only 15 years old. She said to me, ‘Mom, I thought I was going to die.’ ”
The hearing comes shortly after Nassar pleaded guilty to a total of 10 criminal sexual conduct charges in a pair of Michigan counties as part of a plea deal. He is scheduled to be sentenced for those counts in January 2018.
In Michigan’s Eaton County Court, Nassar last month admitted that between 2009 and 2011 he inserted ungloved fingers into the vaginas of three victims, and at least one was under the age of 13. One week earlier, Nassar pleaded guilty to seven criminal sexual conduct charges in Ingham County Circuit Court. He entered the guilty plea in exchange for assurances that he would face no more charges involving dozens of other victims, The Detroit News reported at the time.
Nassar’s lawyers issued a statement obtained by PEOPLE last month after his first guilty plea, which said in part, “As our client indicated in court today, he hopes that his guilty plea begins the healing process for those individuals whom have been the subject of the state criminal prosecution.”
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USA Gymnastics also issued a statement following last month’s guilty plea, stating in part that the organization “is very sorry that any athlete was harmed by Larry Nassar. Upon first learning of athlete concerns about Nassar in 2015, USA Gymnastics reported him to the FBI and relieved him of any involvement with USA Gymnastics … USA Gymnastics also views Nassar’s guilty plea as an important acknowledgment of his appalling and devious conduct that permits punishment without further victimization of survivors. ”