Lansing (US): Former USA Gymnastics team doctor Lawrence Nassar, accused of molesting more than 100 female athletes over several decades, on Wednesday pleaded guilty to multiple counts of criminal sexual conduct.
Nassar — who was involved with USA Gymnastics for nearly three decades and worked with the country’s gymnasts at four separate Olympic Games — could be sentenced to at least 25 years in prison on the charges brought in Michigan.
Nassar faced 22 criminal counts of sexual assault in the Midwestern state, for abusing athletes under the guise of offering them medical treatment. As part of a plea agreement, Nassar admitted to seven counts of abuse. Three of his victims were under 13 years old, and the others were between 13-15 years of age.
A handcuffed and seemingly gaunt Nassar appeared in court in an orange prison jumpsuit. Speaking softly and at times with heavy sighs, he pleaded guilty with a simple “yes” as each charge was read.
He then addressed the court with a statement. He said he prayed for his victims and was “horribly sorry” for his crimes, which relate to events in Michigan that took place between 1998 and 2015.
“I want them to heal. I want this community to heal,” Nassar said.
Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, addressing both Nassar and victims in the packed courtroom, said the former doctor’s words “fall very short.”
“You used that position of trust that you had in the most vile way — to abuse children,” Aquilina said. “I agree that now is a time of healing. But, it may take them a lifetime of healing, while you spend your lifetime behind bars.”