New sexual assault charges filed against ex-MSU doctor

Michael Gerstein, The Detroit News

Lansing — Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced 22 new sexual assault charges Wednesday against Dr. Larry Nassar, a former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics doctor.

The felony complaint from the Ingham County 55th Circuit Court shows 22 charges of first-degree criminal sexual conduct related to nine alleged victims.

All of the alleged sexual assaults occurred during medical procedures and involved digital vaginal and anal penetration at Nassar’s home treatment room and medical settings that included the MSU Sports Medicine Clinic and Twistarts Gymnastics Club in the Lansing area, according to the Attorney General’s Office and charging documents.

Nassar faces 22 felony charges that each can carry up to life sentences; Schuette says his office is pushing for the maximum penalty. The charges come five months after Schuette and Michigan State University Police launched an investigation into the allegations against Nassar.

“This guy is disgusting. This guy is despicable. He is a monster,” Schuette said at a Wednesday news conference. “These girls – this should have been a time of innocence for them. But instead Larry Nassar stole that innocence from them.”

Schuette said he expects more charges to come because MSU continues to receive more sexual assault allegations nearly every day. The university has already received sexual assault complaints from more than 80 people who allege they were abused by Nassar, he said.

Five charges are related to victims younger than 13 at the time of the alleged assault, according to the Attorney General’s Office. The other 17 allege Nassar took advantage of his position of authority to commit the alleged sexual assaults, the office said.

Nassar’s lawyers declined to comment on the new charges or allegations.

“Dr. Nassar preyed on these young girls, he used his status and authority to engage in horrid sexual assaults under the guise of medical procedures. He violated the oath that every doctor takes to do no harm,” Schuette said in a statement.

“The girls abused by Dr. Nassar were so young, so innocent that they didn’t fully understand what Nassar was doing to them until many years later.”

In a statement released Wednesday, MSU President Lou Anna Simon said, “I am deeply troubled by the emerging details and recognize the courage it takes to come forward with information about of personally traumatic events. ... I urge any individuals who have complaints about Nassar, or information relevant to the investigations, to contact MSU Police.”

Michigan State University Police Chief Jim Dunlap echoed that encouragement to other .

“The allegations of sexual assault against Dr. Nassar continue to increase nearly every day, and we remain constantly in contact with the victims as we move forward,” Dunlap said in a statement.

Nassar’s attorney wasn’t immediately available for comment. But Nassar has pleaded not guilty to other allegations.

Police in Meridian Township received complaints from people alleging abuse by Nassar in 2004 and the investigation was referred to MSU police at the time, Schuette said.

In 2014, MSU investigated more sexual assault allegations related to Nassar before turning the case over to the Ingham County prosecutor, who declined to offer warrants at the time. Neither investigation was ever referred to the Attorney General’s Office for prosecution, Schuette said.

The new charges come after a woman last Friday became the first to publicly testify against Nassar, 53, for allegedly sexually abusing young girls and women over two decades.

Judge Donald L. Allen Jr. of 55th District Court bound Nassar over for trial on three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a person younger than 13, which is punishable by up to life in prison. He has pleaded not guilty.

No trial date was set.

The 25-year-old woman said she was 6 when the doctor exposed himself to her and began seven years of escalating sexual abuse. She said the incidents began in 1998 during frequent family visits to Nassar’s home in Holt.

“I was confused,” the woman said at the preliminary examination. “I didn’t know what to think of it. I had no reason to challenge it. So I just let it be what it was.”

The woman who testified Friday was not a patient of Nassar’s. The alleged incidents occurred during time their families spent together.

Nassar is being held without bond at the Ingham County Jail.

(517) 371-3661

Detroit News Staff Writer Kim Kozlowski contributed