Larry Nassar entered into a plea bargain today in which he pleaded guilty to seven felony counts of first degree criminal sexual conduct in cases involving girls under the age of 13 in Ingham County.
As a physician widely known for treating the injuries of gymnasts, dancers and others, Nassar worked closely with athletes from Michigan State University, the Twistars training facility, and the U.S. National Gymnastics team. His accusers total more than 100, including Olympians.
Judge Rosemarie Aquilina accepted Nassar’s guilty pleas, but is not obligated to adhere to the agreed-upon terms of 25 to 45 years in prison as opposed to a possible life sentence.
After pleading guilty to seven felonies, Nassar briefly addressed the court, saying "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."
Judge Aquilina set sentencing for January 12, at which time Nassar’s victims will be allowed to speak.Some of Nassar’s accusers say they intend to do just that, but a group of four survivors didn’t wait to talk. They are 19 year old Alexis Alvarado, 23 year old Jessica Smith, Christine Harrison, also 23, and Larissa Boyce, who’s now 37.
They joined together to talk about Nassar and what comes next. Among their remarks: "he was this man that we respected and trusted and looked up to. Now, seeing him handcuffed and thin, saying that he's guilty of sexually abusing us? It's hard to process that." "I do not buy his apology, I don't accept it, I don't think it's real at all." And, finally, "The next thing I want to know is how he got away with it for so long, and why aren't people asking the question 'who helped enable this?' Why aren't those people being held accountable at MSU and at Twistars?"
Larry Nassar will be in court in Eaton County for another plea hearing next week, and he faces federal court sentencing on child pornography charges.