Ex-Mich. St., U.S. Gymnastics doc pleads guilty to child-porn charges

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Larry Nassar, the once-famed MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor, admitted in federal court this morning to having thousands of images and videos of child pornography.

Nassar pleaded guilty in front of federal Magistrate Judge Ray Kent who said in December, if testimony from an FBI agent was true, Nassar posed ”the worst kind of risk to our community: A risk to our children.”

That testimony centered on the fact that law enforcement found at least 37,000 videos and images of child pornography on hard drives located on Nassar’s Holt property, including videos the agent said appeared to show Nassar sexually assaulting young girls in a pool.

The three guilty pleas — on charges of obtaining and possessing child pornography and destroying computer files to hamper the investigation — are the first for Nassar, who still faces three sexual assault cases in Ingham and Eaton counties.

Dr. Larry Nassar listens to testimony of a witness during a preliminary hearing, in Lansing, Mich. | Robert Killips/Lansing State Journal via Associated Press

”Dr. Nassar’s position on the state cases has not changed and we intend to proceed to trial. The plea today was negotiated only to resolve the federal charges,” Nassar’s attorneys Matt Newburg and Shannon Smith said in a statement.

The sentencing guideline range stipulated to in the plea is 22 to 27 years in prison. However, the judge is free to sentence Nassar, 53, above or below that range and order that the sentences be served consecutively. That means he could be sentenced to up to 60 years in prison or as few as five years.

The plea deal with the U.S. Attorney’s Office included an agreement that federal prosecutors would not charge him for alleged sexual exploitation or attempted sexual exploitation of children, including an incident in 2015 in his swimming pool. That agreement is limited to four reported victims.

Since September, in the wake of an Indianapolis Star article, more than 100 women and girls have come forward and said Nassar sexually assaulted them, nearly all saying it happened during medical appointments and many said it happened in Nassar’s Michigan State University office.

He worked at MSU and with USA Gymnastics for decades. The university fired him in September and left USA Gymnastics in fall 2015 with little notice. Both organizations have been named in lawsuits, which allege they didn’t do enough to protect women and girls from Nassar.