Former USA Gymnastics Doctor Larry Nassar Pleads Guilty to Sexually Abusing Girls in Michigan
Larry Nassar, 54, appeared in Michigan’s Ingham County Circuit Court on Wednesday where he entered the guilty plea in exchange for assurances that he would face no more charges involving dozens of other victims, The Detroit News also reported.
According to MLive, the Ingham County case involves eight women who claim Nassar inserted ungloved fingers into their vaginas and rectums at Michigan State University’s sports-medicine clinic and at his home while they were until age 16. Among them is Rachael Denhollander, the first woman to go public with her story of abuse.
“For all those involved, I’m so horribly sorry,” Nassar, 54, said in court. “I want them to heal. I want this community to heal.”
His lawyers, Matthew Newburg and Shannon Smith, later released a statement obtained by PEOPLE.
“The Agreement which was placed on the record today was reached after extensive negotiations with the prosecution and with significant input from Larry Nassar. This agreement resolves all the charged and uncharged conduct for more than 125 cases currently under investigation by the Michigan Attorney General’s office. 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. We ask that the privacy of his family be honored as they continue to process the events of the last 10 months.”
Nassar will get a minimum prison sentence of at least 25 years, The Detroit News reports. He has a plea hearing scheduled in Eaton for Nov. 29, a spokesperson tells PEOPLE.
Judge Rosemarie Aquilina told Nassar after his guilty plea that “You used your position of trust in the most vile way: to abuse children. I agree that now is a time of healing, but it may take them a lifetime of healing while you spend your life behind bars thinking of what you did by taking away their childhood.”
Denhollander was in the courtroom Wednesday alongside other accusers, and also testified during a preliminary hearing for Nassar in May. Her husband, Jacob Denhollander, tweeted after court that “Rachael and the other victims were strong and focused.”
In a statement, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, announced that Nassar’s sentencing hearing would be held on Jan. 12. All 125 victims, or their parents, will be allowed to give impact statements.
More than 100 women, including several former athletes, have accused Nassar of sexual abuse, including stars like Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney (who are not part of the Michigan cases). Raisman, 23, recently opened up about the alleged abuse in both a revealing 60 Minutes interview and in hernew autobiography, Fierce. She said she was 15 years old when she was first treated by Nassar.
“I didn’t think I was being molested. I didn’t know,” Raisman told PEOPLE. “He was a doctor. I never would have thought that a doctor would misuse his power so much.”
Raisman tweeted about Nassar’s court appearance Wednesday morning, and called him a “monster.”
Later, Raisman posted a longer message on Instagram, and said she is “beyond disgusted” that he “was able to prey upon so many over such a long period of time.” She also said the sport must take a “long, honest look” at ways to improve the system.
RELATED VIDEO: Aly Raisman Says Abuse By Team Doctor Began When She Was 15: ‘It’s Horrific What I Went Through’
Nassar’s plea also comes just one day after Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas alleged on Instagram that she too was abused by Nassar.
Her comments came after Maroney made headlines with shocking revelations of her own. Maroney, now 21, alleged that she was abused by Nassar for years, beginning when she was just 13 years old. She recalled an incident when she was 15 in which she claimed Nassar drugged her during a flight to Tokyo.
“Next thing I know, I was all alone with him in his hotel room getting a ‘treatment.’ I thought I was going to die that night,” she added.
Abuse allegations against Nassar first made headlines in 2016 when Denhollander revealed to the Indianapolis Star that she was allegedly abused by the doctor during her time at Michigan State University.
Since then, more than a hundred alleged victims have come forward with their own stories of abuse, including Jamie Dantzscher, Jeannette Antolin and Jessica Howard.
Nassar was fired by USA Gymnastics in 2015 after working with the organization since 1986. He had been its national medical coordinator since 1996, The New York Times reported. He was fired from Michigan State last year.