Michigan doctor expected to change plea in sex assault cases

Keywords Courts / Government

A former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics doctor accused of molesting girls under the guise of medical treatment at his home, a campus clinic and a youth gymnastics club is expected to change his not-guilty pleas in a bid to close the state’s criminal cases against him.

Online court records show change-of-plea hearings for 54-year-old Dr. Larry Nassar are scheduled for Nov. 22 and Nov. 29 in two Michigan counties. Jury selection was to begin in one courthouse on Dec. 4.

A spokeswoman for state Attorney General Bill Schuette declined to comment, citing a gag order. A message was left Wednesday for one of Nassar’s defense lawyers.

In February, the state charged Nassar with 22 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct involving nine girls who said they were molested at Michigan State’s sports medicine clinic, his home or the Twistars Gymnastics Club. All were age 16 or under.

More recently, Olympic gymnasts Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney said they were among those sexually abused by Nassar.

Nassar began working with USA Gymnastics, which is based in Indianapolis, as an athletic trainer in 1986 and became the national team doctor in 1996. He stepped down in 2014 but remained on staff before being fired in 2015.

In a probable-cause hearing in June, prosecutors played a video of Nassar’s 40-minute voluntary interview with a university police detective. Nassar denied any inappropriate contact and said he got no sexual pleasure from treating gymnasts.

He repeatedly moved his arms and hands as he explained his techniques, using phrases such as “lift and shift” and “tissue tension” to describe treatments for back and hip injuries.

Nassar already is in jail awaiting sentencing in federal court after pleading guilty to possession of child pornography. He also has been sued by more than 125 women alleging abuse.

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