Society

FBI: Gymnastics Doctor Abused Girls As Young As 6

| by Nik Bonopartis

The criminal trial against Dr. Larry Nassar brought more bad news for the U.S. gymnastics community on Dec. 21, when an FBI agent testified that authorities found video of the physician sexually abusing young girls.

The videos, which were seized when law enforcement executed a search warrant on Nassar's home, were found on hard drives the doctor had allegedly tried to hide from agents by throwing them in the trash before they began their search, according to the Lansing State Journal.

Those hard drives also contained more than 37,000 photos and videos of child pornography, the FBI agent testified during the trial, in which the former USA Gymnastics team physician faces two felony counts in federal court.

Nassar has pleaded not guilty and, through his attorney, maintained his innocence. If convicted, Nassar faces up to 40 years in prison and a lifetime of post-release supervision, the newspaper reported.

Popular Video

This young teenage singer was shocked when Keith Urban invited her on stage at his concert. A few moments later, he made her wildest dreams come true.

He was originally arrested in November after a former Michigan State gymnast alleged he began sexually abusing her when she was 12 years old, according to UPI. In total, more than 60 women have now come forward, accusing the doctor of sexually abusing them during "invasive medical exams." Nassar also faces three separate civil trials based on allegations of sexual molestation.

The newest accusations against Nassar, unveiled in mid-December when prosecutors unsealed an indictment against him, hit the gymnastics community a week after the Indianapolis Star published an exhaustive investigation detailing 20 years of sexual abuse complaints against coaches and gym owners associated with USA Gymnastics, the sport's national governing body.

That report included allegations -- backed up by dozens of sources -- that USA Gymnastics worked to minimize the complaints against adults in its organization in an effort to protect the image of the sport and USA Gymnastics itself.

Like the clergy abuse scandal that rocked the Catholic Church in the early 2000s, USA Gymnastics officials were accused of allowing coaches to move on to new gyms and continue to abuse young athletes after they were quietly fired from gyms where they'd been accused of sexual assault.

Popular Video

This young teenage singer was shocked when Keith Urban invited her on stage at his concert. A few moments later, he made her wildest dreams come true:

The investigation found that the sport's national governing body does not track coaches and other adults accused of abusing young athletes. USA Gymnastics also refused to answer certain questions posed by the Indianapolis Star's reporters, and would only respond to questions submitted in writing, the newspaper reported.

The 53-year-old Nassar was the U.S. Olympic team's primary physician during four Olympic games. He was denied bail and remains in federal custody, the Lansing State Journal reported, after federal Magistrate Judge Ray Kent called the doctor the "worst" kind of danger to young athletes, saying prosecutors had assembled evidence that weighed "very heavy against Dr. Nassar."

Some of the videos found on Nassar's hard drives allegedly show him abusing girls as young as 6 years old, UPI reported, while agents also found a Go Pro camera that reportedly contains digital recordings of Nassar molesting young girls in a pool.

Nassar, who knew he was the subject of a federal investigation, was partially undone by the fact that trash collection in his neighborhood was running late on the day police and federal agents raided his home.

Special Agent Rod Charles told the court that an officer checked the garbage cans sitting on the curb in front of Nassar's home, and that's where he found the hard drives containing the images and videos. Several of those hard drives were marked with Nassar's name and phone number, the newspaper reported.

One of Nassar's accusers, former Michigan State gymnast Tiffany Thomas Lopez, says Nassar abused her when she was a freshman at the college in 1998. Her attorney, John Manly, said he represents two other women who say Nassar sexually abused them, and says he could file as many as 15 additional lawsuits as more alleged victims come forward.

Manly says his client reported the abuse to Michigan State University, and felt college officials didn't take her complaints seriously.

"The more it goes on, the more it starts to feel like a Sandusky situation," Manly said, comparing Nassar to Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach who was convicted on 40 separate counts ranging from sexual assault to indecent contact with minors over a 15-year period. Sandusky is currently serving a 60-year prison sentence and will not be eligible for parole until he's 98 years old.

Sources: Lansing State Journal via KUSA, UPI (2) / Photo credit: Facebook via Heavy.com

Should USA Gymnastics work harder to clear its name?
Yes - 0%
Yes - 0%