Ex-doc charged with sexually abusing gymnasts

CHICAGO • A long-time doctor for the United States gymnastics team was charged with sexual assault on Wednesday in Michigan.

The doctor, Lawrence G. Nassar, faces 22 charges of first-degree criminal sexual conduct involving at least seven victims. Each charge carries a sentence of up to life in prison.

Prosecutors said that they expected more charges and that they were hearing from more victims.

"This guy is a monster," Bill Schuette, the Attorney-General of Michigan, said at a news conference on Wednesday.

"You read those affidavits and it shocks you to the very core."

The affidavits describe the accounts of victims as young as 10 who say Nassar, 53, digitally penetrated them and molested them under the guise of performing medical treatment.

Many were repeatedly assaulted over the course of years.

The Attorney-General's office said the assaults occurred at Nassar's home treatment room; at Michigan State Sports Medical Clinic; and at a gymnastics club.

According to the charges, the victims were 13 to 16 years old.

Three former gymnasts - Jamie Dantzscher, a 2000 Olympic bronze medallist; Jeanette Antolin; and Jessica Howard - told television programme 60 Minutes that Nassar had touched them inappropriately while treating them.

He was fired by USA Gymnastics in 2015 after working with the federation since 1986 overall and as its national medical coordinator since 1996.

Dantzscher, 34, and other women have filed civil lawsuits against Nassar.

The US federation is also named as a defendant in a suit, accused of burying complaints about, and not adequately supervising, him.

John Manly - a California attorney representing more than 40 women in a lawsuit against USA Gymnastics for failing to protect his clients - says Nassar may have abused hundreds of girls over more than two decades, many at the ranch training headquarters of famed US coaches Bela and Marta Karolyi.

The Karolyis, in a statement to 60 Minutes, denied creating a "toxic" environment that allowed the abuse to take place.

Nassar also separately faces charges of sexual abuse of a family friend and possessing child pornography.

NYTIMES, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 24, 2017, with the headline 'Ex-doc charged with sexually abusing gymnasts'. Print Edition | Subscribe