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18 alleged victims sue Nassar, MSU over abuse claims

Larry Nassar's headshot
Michigan Attorney General's office
Dr. Larry Nassar

Eighteen alleged victims are suing former Olympic gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar and his former employer, Michigan State University.

The accusers are current and former athletes who sought treatment from Dr. Nassar, but instead, they say, they were repeatedly molested, with Dr. Nassar groping them and, in some cases, digitally penetrating them.  

Nassar was also a sports medicine professor at MSU until the school fired him in September.

One of the accusers, Rachael Denhollander, says the university failed them in its previous investigations into abuse.

"MSU showed deliberate indifference to the complaints and to the treatment that Nassar was using,” she says.  “This was clearly a procedure he did on a regular basis, and he did it with confidence. And MSU did not listen to the complaints."

Denhollander says she went to Dr. Nassar for back pain when she was 15. And because he was so respected in the gymnastics and medical communities, she says at the she believed his abuse was part of legitimate medical treatment.

"The only conclusion I could reach as a child, was that the fear and shame I felt was my own misunderstanding,” she says.

The plaintiffs’ attorney, Stephen Drew, says the MSU police have already received 60 complaints about Dr. Nassar. MSU PD did not immediately respond to confirm or deny those numbers.

MSU spokesperson Jason Cody offered the following statement via email:

“While we cannot comment specifically on pending or ongoing litigation, we are deeply disturbed by the state and federal criminal charges against Larry Nassar, and our hearts go out to those directly affected.

“The criminal investigation into Larry Nassar is a top priority for MSU Police. Detectives are vigorously reviewing all complaints and working through them with the state Attorney General’s office and federal U.S. Attorney’s Office.

“Additionally, the university began an internal review in September, looking at all aspects of operations involving Nassar’s work at the university. It will continue as new information and/or allegations are brought forward. An external law firm is advising MSU on the review, which will result in disciplinary action if appropriate. Also, MSU initiated a separate review looking closely at our clinic policies and operations to determine if there are steps we should take to make improvements.”

Nassar is also facing charges for child pornography and criminal sexual assault. 

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Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health. She was a 2023 Pulitzer Prize finalist for her abortion coverage.
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