Tarnished Twenty- The FindLaw Sports Law Blog

Lawsuit Claims Gymnastics Doctor Sexually Assaulted at Least 18 Female Athletes

Larry Nassar, former team doctor for USA Gymnastics and at Michigan State University, is currently in police custody, charged with sexual assault of a minor in his home and possession of child pornography. And these cases are unrelated to the claims of 18 female athletes that Nassar used the cover of medical examinations to sexually assault them in incidents spanning two decades, most of them when the victims were minors.

Nassar is also named in four other civil lawsuits, and Michigan authorities are investigating over 50 complaints involving the doctor.

The Doctor

While most plaintiffs in sexual assault cases remain anonymous, Rachael Denhollander talked publicly about the suit. Denhollander, now 32, alleges Nassar assaulted her while treating the former gymnast for wrist and back injuries in 2000 when she was just 15. Denhollander also said she didn't tell anyone at the time because Nassar was employed by Michigan State and affiliated with USA Gymnastics, and she believed her "voice would not be heard."

According to the lawsuit, Nassar would treat hip, leg, back and ankle injuries with what he referred to as "inter-vaginal adjustments" involving digital penetration without the athletes' consent. The victims ranged from 9 to 29 years old at the time of the assaults, and were gymnasts, figure skaters, swimmers, and softball, basketball, and soccer players.

The Others

The lawsuit also named USA Gymnastics, who allegedly cut ties with Nassar in 2015 when it first heard allegations regarding his behavior, but failed to alert Michigan State. The university is also a defendant in the suit, with victims claiming it failed to respond to complaints about Nassar from two of the plaintiffs -- a runner and a softball player attending the school -- in 1999 and 2000.

Both entities declined to comment on the lawsuit, though both assert they are cooperating with criminal investigations and Michigan State is conducting its own investigation into more recent allegations.

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