A former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics sports doctor accused of sexually assaulting dozens of women and girls pleaded guilty Tuesday, July 11, to three federal charges, including possession of child pornography, that could put him behind bars for up to 60 years.
Dr. Lawrence Gerard Nassar amassed thousands of images and videos of child pornography between 2003 and 2016, some involving girls under the age of 12, federal court records show.
Aware he was under federal investigation, Nassar last September paid a computer service store $49 to delete all material from his laptop and threw away several hard drives, which were recovered from his trash can, federal investigators said.
Today’s pleas in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids only resolve the federal charges. Nassar still faces nearly two dozen criminal sexual conduct charges in Ingham and Eaton counties as well as several civil lawsuits.
Nassar faces a minimum of five years and a combined maximum of up to 60 years on the federal charges. He pleaded guilty to receipt/attempted receipt of child pornography, possession of child pornography and destruction and concealment of records.
Federal sentencing guidelines call for a minimum term of between 22 to 27 years on the three federal charges.
Today’s pleas were entered before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ray Kent. They still need to be accepted by U.S. District Court Judge Janet Neff, who is handling the case. Sentencing will not likely occur until November.
“With Dr. Nassar’s admissions of guilt on federal charges today, victims and the public can be assured that a day of reckoning is indeed in Dr. Nassar’s future,’’ Acting U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge said in a statement. “No one, no matter his station in life, is above the law.’’
Nassar, who appeared in court wearing an orange prisoner jump suit, said he understood the federal charges and the penalties involved.
His legal team made a brief statement outside the federal courthouse, but declined to answer questions.
“We just want to make it clear that the plea that was negotiated today only resolves the federal charges,’’ attorney Shannon Smith said.
Co-counsel Matt Newburg said Nassar’s position on the pending state charges has not changed. “We intend to proceed to trial on those cases,’’ Newburg said.
Nassar is charged with sexually assaulting numerous women or girls in the Lansing area. The alleged victims accuse him of molesting them with ungloved hands while they were being treated for various injuries.
Nassar, 53, is also being sued by more than 100 women or girls in seven pending federal lawsuits filed this year.