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Former USA Gymnastics doctor charged with sexual assault in Michigan

Former USA Gymnastics doctor charged with sexual assault in Michigan
Dr. Larry Nassar listens to testimony of a witness during a preliminary hearing in Lansing, Mich., on Feb. 17. (Robert Killips / Associated Press)

A Michigan sports doctor who treated elite female U.S. gymnasts was charged Wednesday with sexually assaulting nine girls, including some said to be too reluctant to speak up about the alleged abuse years ago because he was considered a "god."

Roughly two dozen charges were filed against Dr. Larry Nassar, the first criminal cases related to his work at Michigan State University, where he was the preferred doctor for gymnasts in the region who had back or hip injuries. He's also being sued by dozens of women and girls, including 2000 Olympian Jamie Dantzscher, who described the alleged assaults on "60 Minutes" Sunday.

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"This guy is disgusting. This guy is despicable," Michigan Atty. Gen. Bill Schuette told reporters Wednesday. "He is a monster."

Nassar, 53, was a doctor for Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics, the national gymnastics team, until summer 2015, accompanying the women's team at international competitions, including the Olympics. Michigan State fired him last September after he violated restrictions that were put in place in 2014 following a complaint.

Nassar's attorneys declined to comment Wednesday. He has denied the charges and, in an email last fall to his Michigan State bosses, said, "I will overcome this."

The charges were filed in two cases: one in Ingham County, the home of Michigan State, and the other nearby in Eaton County, where Nassar saw injured girls at Gedderts' Twistars Club, a gymnastics club.

He's accused of inserting his fingers in their vaginas during treatments for various injuries. Parents were asked to leave the room or Nassar used a sheet or stood in a position to block any view of the alleged abuse, police said. Two girls were under 13, and seven were 13 to 16.

"Dr. Nassar used his status and authority to engage in horrid sexual assaults under the guise of medical procedures," Schuette said.

A girl identified as Victim B, now 21, said she was sexually assaulted by Nassar "'more times than she could count,"' Det. Sgt. Andrea Munford wrote in an affidavit.

"Victim B stated that she and all the gymnasts trusted Nassar and that he was like a god to the gymnasts. Because it was happening to all of them, they thought it was normal," Munford said.

Munford said Nassar sometimes gave gifts to girls to keep their confidence, including leotards and pins from the Olympics. One alleged victim quoted Nassar as saying, "We don't tell parents about this because they wouldn't understand."

Schuette said more charges were coming. Michigan State University Police Chief James Dunlap said he has more than a dozen people working on the Nassar investigation.

Besides the criminal cases announced Wednesday, Nassar faces charges in two cases that were filed in 2016 and are unrelated to his work as a doctor. He's accused of possessing child pornography and molesting the daughter of family friends. He remains in jail without bond.

Dantzscher spoke to "60 Minutes" about her experiences with Nassar.

"He would put his fingers inside of me, move my leg around," she said. "He would tell me I was going to feel a pop and that that would put my hips back and help my back pain."

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UPDATES:

1:50 p.m.: This article has been updated throughout with additional details about the investigation and the charges against Nassar.

This article was originally published at 8:45 p.m.

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