USA

Ex-Olympic doctor admits abusing child gymnasts

A former doctor for the US Olympic gymnastics team who is accused of molesting at least 125 girls and young women has pleaded guilty to multiple charges of sexual assault.

Larry Nassar admitted abusing seven girls – three of whom were under the age of 13 – at his home and at a clinic in Michigan.

In some cases, the assaults he committed were under the guise of treatment, but the 54-year-old has confessed his conduct had no legitimate medical purpose.

Some of the alleged abuse victims who have reported claims against Nassar include US Olympic gymnasts Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Gabby Douglas.

Nassar, who lost his medical licence in April, now faces at least 25 years in prison – but the judge could set a minimum sentence as high as 40 years.

Image:Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney (L-R) are among Nassar's accusers

At Ingham County Circuit Court in Michigan, Nassar said he was "horribly sorry" for the offences, which took place between 1998 and 2015.

He added: "This was like a match that turned into a forest fire out of control.

"I pray the rosary every day for forgiveness. I want them to heal. I want the community to heal."

During the hearing, victims testified that Nassar sexually abused them while they sought medical attention for gymnastics injuries.

Judge Rosemarie Aquilina said the disgraced doctor had used his position of trust "in the most vile way to abuse children".

She added: "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 thinking about what you did in taking away their childhood."

Judge Aquilina added that Nassar's victims were "superheroes for all of America, because this is an epidemic".

Victim Rachael Denhollander described Nassar as a 'master manipulator'
Image:Victim Rachael Denhollander described Nassar as a 'master manipulator'

Following the hearing, victim Rachael Denhollander said she was "grateful for the army of women that has stopped a paedophile".

The former USA Gymnastics athlete added: "(Nassar) is a consummate narcissist. He's a master manipulator.

"I don't believe there was anything sincere in what Larry said, other than his desire to refocus the attention on the good that he believed he did today."

Meanwhile, alleged victim Larissa Boyce said it was "really hard" to look at Nassar in the courtroom.

"This was a man we trusted. He's admitting what he did was wrong and evil."

Nassar is set to be sentenced on 12 January, and his 125 victims will be able to speak during that hearing.

He has been charged with similar crimes in a neighbouring county, and is also awaiting sentencing in a federal court on child pornography charges.

Original Article

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