Three more guilty pleas have been entered by Larry Nassar. The former team physician who treated gymnasts at Twistars, Michigan State University and the U.S. Gymnastics team was in an Eaton County courtoom today.
There are similarities and differences between Wednesday’s Eaton County Circuit Court appearance before Judge Janice Cunningham and last week’s plea hearing before Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina. Aquilina allowed Nassar to make a statement, but Judge Cunningham did not offer Nassar an opportunity to do that.
It was similar, though, in that Judge Cunningham accepted Nassar’s guilty pleas in an arrangement meant to reduce the amount of time he might spend in prison.
The terms of the plea agreement are similar in that Nassar faces 25 to 40 years in prison. If his case had gone to trial, he could have been sent to prison for life if convicted.
Neither judge has to follow those terms, but if there’s a stiffer sentence imposed, Nassar can withdraw his guilty pleas.
Also in contrast to last week’s Ingham County proceedings, no victims spoke with reporters. However, Adam Sturdivant, an attorney representing 105 survivors who are filing civil suits against MSU, Twistars and the U.S. Gymnasts program Nassar once worked for did make himself available. He says he had just spent 30 minutes with a client who’s having a difficult time digesting what has happened. "I think our clients have some optimism that at this point, the justice system is finally working," he stated. "Their voices are finally being heard."
Sturdivant says his clients are seeking accountability from not just Nassar but also from the institutions that employed him, where Sturdivant says Nassar had “unfettered access” to his victims. He adds that Nassar’s recent guilty pleas will have an impact on their cases.
The Eaton County charges relate to Nassar’s treatment of athletes at the Twistars gymnastics training program.
Michigan State University spokesperson Jason Cody released a statement reading in part that the convictions “represent another important step toward justice for the victims.” He also praised the MSU Police and the state AG’s office for building this case.