WASHINGTON • Former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar - accused of sexually assaulting more than 100 young girls in his care, including Olympic champions - was sentenced to 60 years in prison on Thursday for child pornography.
The 54-year-old, facing sentencing next month on separate sexual assault charges, pleaded guilty in July to possessing thousands of images and videos of child pornography depicting children as young as infants between 2003 and 2016.
The doctor, who worked at Michigan State University (MSU) in addition to USA Gymnastics, was found to be in possession of more than 37,000 graphic videos and images of child pornography on his computer hard drives. He was given the maximum 20 years in prison on each count by US District Judge Janet Neff at a federal court hearing in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
"He has demonstrated that he should never again have access to children," Neff was quoted by the local Lansing State Journal newspaper as saying.
Nassar said in court he was ashamed of his actions and had lost everything.
"I'm going to take every day of your sentence to try to better myself," the Journal quoted him as telling the judge.
He has pleaded guilty to 10 counts of sexual assault in two other cases in Michigan, admitting that he abused young athletes under the guise of offering medical treatment. He could face life in prison when he is sentenced on those charges next month.
His case was part of a wide-ranging scandal which forced the resignation of USA Gymnastics chief Steve Penny in March. Penny was accused by victims of failing to quickly notify authorities about the abuse allegations.
Olympic gold medallists McKayla Maroney, 21, Aly Raisman, 23, and Gabby Douglas, 21, are among the members of the USA Gymnastics team who have said they were sexually assaulted by Nassar.
Maroney, in a victim impact statement submitted to Neff, called Nassar a "monster" and urged her to give him the maximum sentence.
Raisman released a statement on the sports website The Players' Tribune and expressed hope that Nassar's jailing would lead to changes.
"We must look at the organisations that protected Nassar for years and years: USA Gymnastics, the US Olympic Committee and MSU," she said. "Until we understand the flaws in their systems, we can't be sure something like this won't happen again."
At a news conference on Thursday, Rachael Denhollander, one of Nassar's victims and among those suing USA Gymnastics and MSU, said the organisations failed to protect them from the abuse.
"Today the justice feels very incomplete," said the 32-year-old.
USA Gymnastics has since adopted a new "safe sport policy" that requires "mandatory reporting" of suspicions of sexual abuse.
A civil lawsuit has been filed on behalf of about 100 of Nassar's victims. Their attorney, John Manly, estimated that the total number could be as high as 160.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS