Larry Nassar sentencing: Spotlight on major institutions in sex assault scandal
Larry Nassar’s final sentence for serial sexual assault now turns the scandal’s spotlight toward major institutions, including Michigan State University, where many of his abuses occurred.
The former sports doctor was sentenced Monday to 40 to 125 years in prison, his third punishment since early December.
Nassar admits penetrating young girls and women with ungloved hands while claiming to be treating them for back and hip injuries. He often saw young gymnasts, but a judge noted Monday that the 260-plus victims were in fine arts and other sports, too.
Here’s where things stand while Nassar sits behind bars:
Despite his convictions, Nassar is unlikely to spend a day in a Michigan prison. He’ll first serve a 60-year sentence in federal prison for child pornography crimes. And at 54, it’s doubtful he would outlive the federal term, even if some time is shaved off for good behavior.
The U.S. Bureau of Prisons won’t discuss where Nassar will be housed, although his assignment eventually will become a public record. Prison consultant Edward Bales says there are three or four sites that house sex offenders. He says federal prisons usually are safer and more comfortable than a state prison.
Nassar’s future is locked up, but criminal investigations aren’t over. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott last week ordered Texas Rangers to check “gut-wrenching” claims that Nassar assaulted some of the world’s best gymnasts while they trained at a ranch used by USA Gymnastics, southeast of Huntsville.
The ranch is owned by former national team coordinators Bela and Marta Karolyi. USA Gymnastics has ended its relationship with the ranch. Olympic champion Simone Biles says she was abused there.
Separately, the U.S. Olympic Committee asked a law firm to investigate how the committee responded to allegations about Nassar.
WHAT DID THEY KNOW?
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, a Republican candidate for governor, is demanding that Michigan State empty its drawers and computers of any information related to Nassar, who committed assaults as a campus doctor.
Victims have repeatedly accused Michigan State staff of missing opportunities to stop Nassar as far back as the 1990s. Schuette named a special prosecutor on Jan. 27 and said no one is off limits as his office tries to determine if any other crimes were committed.
Reporters tagged along Friday as investigators collected some records, a step that was knocked as a “political stunt” by a spokesman for John Engler, MSU’s interim president and the state’s former governor. The school has denied any cover-up.
EVEN MORE SCRUTINY
Bill Beekman was named MSU’s interim athletic director Monday. Besides running sports, he might have to respond to demands from the NCAA. The NCAA two weeks ago said it sent a letter of inquiry regarding potential rules violations related to Nassar’s crimes.
Also, Congress is investigating USA Gymnastics, the university and the U.S. Olympic Committee. And the U.S. Education Department, which has power to enforce anti-discrimination law on campuses, said it’s reviewing how Michigan State handled complaints about Nassar.
COMPENSATION FOR VICTIMS
Michigan State should be held liable for Nassar’s crimes, according to lawsuits by more than 150 women and girls. The university took a beating during nine days of riveting testimony by scores of victims.
A teen said her mother still was getting bills from Michigan State for appointments with Nassar in 2016. “Good cases don’t get worse with litigation. They can get better. We’re not going away,” says attorney Brian McKeen. Michigan State says it has “respect and sympathy” for victims but wants a judge to dismiss the lawsuits on many technical grounds.