Plea Deal Could Avoid U.S. Charges in Gymnast Sex Case

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A plea deal could mean a doctor at the heart of a sexual abuse scandal involving more than 100 girls and women, including top U.S. gymnasts, won’t face federal criminal charges in those cases, NPR reports. Dr. Larry Nassar, a former team doctor for USA Gymnastics is expected to plead guilty today in a Grand Rapids, Mi., federal court. Between 2003 and 2016, Nassar knowingly possessed thousands of images and videos of child pornography, the plea agreement says. In return for his guilty plea, federal authorities agreed not to further prosecute Nassar “for sexual exploitation and attempted sexual exploitation of children.” That relates to allegations that Nassar molested two minors in his swimming pool in 2015. He also won’t be prosecuted for “interstate/international travel with intent and engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places.”

Between 2006 and 2013, Nassar is alleged to have abused elite U.S. gymnasts competing overseas. John Manly, a lawyer for some alleged victims, says the deal would affect about 10 percent of the estimated 119 women who’ve alleged sexual abuse by Nassar, including gymnasts who competed in the Olympics and other major sports competitions. “The message the federal government is sending … is either it didn’t happen or it doesn’t matter. In my view that’s a breach of faith with our athletes,” Manly says.

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