AG: Charges against Ex-gymnastics doctor ‘tip of the iceberg’

Larry Nassar, Mason
Dr. Larry Nassar appears during a video arraignment in Mason, Mich., Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016.

MASON, Mich. (AP) — A former USA Gymnastics team doctor pleaded not guilty Tuesday to three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct in his home with a girl under 13, charges that Michigan’s attorney general said may be the “tip of the iceberg” as authorities investigate roughly 50 complaints.

Larry Nassar, who was arrested Monday while running an errand at a Lansing-area tire store, was arraigned by video from jail. He was released after 10 percent of a $1 million bond was paid, more than two months after two gymnasts — including a member of the 2000 U.S. women’s Olympic team — accused him of sexual abuse during medical treatments.

The alleged assaults against the girl occurred between 1998 and 2005, from the age of 6 until she was 12. She was not a gymnast, patient or family member, said Attorney General Bill Schuette.

He said Nassar, a former associate professor of osteopathic medicine at Michigan State University who lives in Holt in suburban Lansing, committed “predatory, menacing” acts and “stole this young lady’s childhood.”

“This is the tip of the iceberg,” Schuette said during a news conference Tuesday.

University police chief James Dunlap said his department has received roughly 50 complaints.

“We’re dealing with decades of effort to go back and identify witnesses and to compile those for submission to the attorney general’s office,” he said.

Ingham County 55th District Court Magistrate Mark Blumer ordered Nassar to wear an electronic tether and to surrender his passport. He also was prohibited from being present with anyone under 18, including his children, unless another adult is there.

A preliminary exam was scheduled for Dec. 15.

Nassar, who could face life imprisonment if he is convicted, has denied wrongdoing.

Shannon Smith, one of his lawyers, said his wife — who was in the courtroom — and “hundreds of people support him 100 percent. We have received countless emails and communications from other doctors, physicians, physical therapists, ex-patients, ex-coworkers supporting him.”

Assistant state attorney general Angela Povilaitis had asked that bond be denied or, in the alternate, that a very high amount be imposed.

“She has come forward bravely to report this and to cooperate and prosecute this case,” she said.

Nassar was fired in September by Michigan State. In October, a former gymnast who was on the national team from 2006 to 2011 filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles, alleging Nassar repeatedly sexually abused her and renowned husband-and-wife coaches Bella and Martha Karolyi turned a blind eye to molestations.

Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics previously said that it cut ties with Nassar after learning of athlete concerns about him in the summer of 2015.

The attorney general, who is investigating at the request of the campus police, said his department is in the best position to prosecute instead of the local prosecutor because it is believed that potential crimes crossed into multiple jurisdictions in Michigan and possibly across state lines. He said his office is working with the FBI and federal prosecutors in Michigan.