A judge sentenced Larry Nassar to another 40 to 125 years in prison on Monday, the last of three criminal cases against the former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University doctor, who is now accused of sexually abusing more than 260 women.
Nassar, 54, is spending the rest of his life in prison, with or without this latest sentence. He is already serving 60 years in federal prison on child pornography charges. Two weeks ago, a Michigan county sentenced him to between 40 and 175 years in prison for multiple counts of criminal sexual conduct after more than a week of harrowing impact statements from Nassar survivors. At minimum, he’ll face 125 years behind bars. (His two sentences in Michigan will run concurrently.)
Nassar previously pleaded guilty to a combined 10 counts of sexual assault in two Michigan counties, in addition to pleading guilty to the other state and federal charges.
“You are a doctor, you took an oath to do no harm and you have harmed over 256 women and that is beyond comprehension,” Eaton County Judge Janice Cunningham said to Nassar as she handed down his sentence.
Women also delivered impact statements at this latest hearing, adding to some of the more than 150 people who spoke at Nassar’s sentencing two weeks ago. The last woman to deliver testimony in Nassar’s third and final hearing was Rachael Denhollander — the first woman to publicly come forward with allegations against Nassar in September 2016. Her story, which she told the Indianapolis Star, initiated the flood of accusations against the doctor.
Nassar’s criminal cases are done — but the fallout is just beginning
The fallout is just beginning for the institutions that employed Nassar for decades, specifically USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University.
Survivors and the public are calling for the university and USA Gymnastics to account for their failures. Dozens and dozens of Nassar’s former patients are suing the institutions, demanding explanations for how a doctor now accused of molesting more than 260 women and girls did not face real consequences for decades. They blame the silence and inaction of both MSU and USA Gymnastics for enabling Nassar to become perhaps the worst known sexual predator in American sports history.
Nassar worked as as chief medical coordinator for USA Gymnastics until abruptly retiring in 2015. America’s most accomplished gymnasts have said Nassar sexually abused them, including 2016 gold medalists Aly Raisman, Simone Biles, and Gabby Douglas.
USA Gymnastics’s president stepped down in March, and the organization conducted an internal review. But Nassar’s sentencing renewed the attention on the organization’s potential failures. The remaining board members of USA Gymnastics were forced to resign amid pressure from the United States Olympic committee, which threatened to remove USA Gymnastics’s accreditation as the official governing body of the sport if it did not clean house, and meet additional safety and transparency standards.
Michigan State University is also now facing intense scrutiny for neglecting to act on suspicions about Nassar dating back to the 1990s. The case is drawing unsettling parallels to the institutional breakdowns at Penn State revealed during the case of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, who was convicted of molesting young boys in 2012.
MSU president Lou Anna Simon resigned hours after Nassar’s sentencing. The MSU athletic director retired soon after. The Department of Education has opened a formal investigation into the university. So has the NCAA. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is embarking on a “full review” of the Nassar case.
There are also questions about why USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University didn’t communicate with each other when the doctor fell under scrutiny — particularly in the summer of 2015, when federal investigators first began looking into Nassar.
A New York Times report over the weekend identified at least 40 women and girls who say Nassar abused him between July 2015, when he first came on the FBI’s radar, and September 2016, when he was finally fired by Michigan State University following the first media reports about his misconduct.
At Nassar’s sentencing hearing two weeks ago, 15-year-old Emma Ann Miller told the court Nassar had molested her in August 2016 at MSU. The university suspended him about a week after, she said, and she offered a chilling thought: “I’m possibly the last child he will ever assault.”