A former elite sports doctor whose sexual assault cases have rocked Michigan State University and the group that trains U.S. Olympic gymnasts was sentenced Thursday to 60 years in federal prison for possessing thousands of images of child pornography. After his sentencing, some of the victims criticized both MSU and the Olympic gymnastics program.
It's the first of three prison sentences for Larry Nassar, who will learn his punishment in state court in January after pleading guilty to using his hands to molest girls at his campus office, his home and at a gymnastics club near Lansing, Michigan, sometimes with parents in the room.
McKayla Maroney, a member of the 2012 gold medal Olympic team, attended the court hearing after describing Nassar as a "monster" in a letter to U.S. District Judge Janet Neff. She and Olympic gymnasts Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas say they are among his assault victims.
Beyond the criminal cases, more than 100 women and girls are suing Nassar. Michigan State and USA Gymnastics also are defendants in many cases.
In a statement, Michigan State said the 60-year sentence "represents another important step toward justice for the victims."
But victims and lawyers have been deeply critical of the school, claiming campus officials failed to recognize years ago that Nassar was a threat.
John Manly, an attorney representing many women and girls in lawsuits, said negotiations with Michigan State and a mediator failed to lead to an agreement this week. The university declined to comment on the litigation but said it "unequivocally denies" any suggestion of a cover-up.
"MSU trustees and other high-ranking officials have characterized all of us as ambulance chasers looking for a payday," Rachael Denhollander of Louisville, Kentucky, said at a news conference after the court hearing.
Nassar has admitted assaulting Denhollander when she was a teenager in 2000.