The name ‘Dr. Larry Nassar’ may not mean much to you, but in certain circles he is something of a celebrity. An osteopathic physician who specialized in sports medicine, Nassar was a faculty member at Michigan State University and the team physician for USA Gymnastics. In addition, he was a team physician for a local youth gymnastics club. He also serves as the president of the Gymnastics Doctor Autism Foundation. And finally, he also happens to be a man accused of sexually assaulting 16 female gymnasts in and around Lansing, MI, which is why this story has made national headlines.
The first allegations came from two female gymnasts last month, in early September, when a lawsuit was filed in California against Nassar and the USA Gymnastics organization. One of those two is identified in the lawsuit only as ‘Jane Doe.’ Her attorneys will not reveal her identity but they have said that she is a medal-winning member of the women’s gymnastics team that competed in the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
The other alleged victim was Rachael Denhollander, a gymnast from Louisville, Kentucky. During a media interview, Denhollander said that Nassar sexually assaulted her repeatedly during visits to his MSU office for treatments. The first assault, she says, took place during a treatment for lower back pain called myofascial release. Her mother was in the room at the time, Denhollander says, but Nassar positioned himself so that she couldn’t see what he was doing.
Over the course of the next five treatments, she claims, Nassar slowly became more and more abusive. Denhollander says that he massaged her breasts roughly and penetrated her with his fingers. In the interview, Denhollander says that she was terrified, embarrassed, and ashamed. She says she struggled to reconcile what was happening with the person he was supposed to be.
Since the lawsuit was first filed, Michigan State University Police have received at least fourteen other complaints from women alleging that Dr. Nassar sexually assaulted them as well. One woman claims that he spoke of oral sex and other inappropriate subjects during a treatment when she was alone with him, and another says that he was visibly aroused during her treatment.
In a statement released by Nassar’s defense attorney, it says that “Dr. Nassar denies any misconduct relating to any gymnast, patient or anyone else. To the extent he provided medical treatment to anyone, that treatment was always done with consent of the patient. He is proud of his 29 years of volunteer service with USA Gymnastics.”
Although Nassar has not been charged with a crime, he has been fired from his position at Michigan State University, and is currently under investigation. MSU Police and the FBI are both involved in the investigation, and Attorney General Bill Schuette says that he intends to look into the allegations against Nassar as well.
Thus far, the allegations against Nassar are very serious. They have cost him his job, his credibility and many of his professional relationships. What is very sad is that even if they are all later deemed to be false, the damage often can not be undone.
If you are accused of a sex crime you are going to need the assistance of a highly trained and respected sex assault defense attorney on your side during this very difficult time. Call the Kronzek Firm immediately. We have successfully represented countless Michigan clients over the years, and we can help you too.