By Chris Kenning
(Reuters) – A federal judge on Thursday sentenced Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics team doctor accused of sexually assaulting gymnasts, to 60 years in prison on federal child pornography charges that grew out of a sex abuse investigation.
U.S. District Judge Janet Neff in Grand Rapids, Michigan handed down the sentences sought by prosecutors, who said there was a link between Nassar’s child-pornography activities and his “prolific molestation of children,” according to court documents.
“He’s devastated,” Nassar’s attorney, Matt Newburg, told reporters outside the courtroom according to video posted online by the Lansing State Journal. Newburg added he believed Nassar was remorseful.
“You have to wonder whether he felt he was omnipotent, whether he felt he was getting away with something so cleverly,” Neff said according to the State Journal.
Nassar, 54, pleaded guilty in July to possessing thousands of images and videos of child pornography depicting children as young as infants between 2003 and 2016.
Nassar is also set to be sentenced in January in two Michigan courts after pleading guilty to additional counts of criminal sexual conduct related to allegations he assaulted girls under the guise of medical treatment.
At that hearing, all of the more than 120 victims or their parents will be allowed to give victim impact statements. Federal prosecutors said he will likely spend the rest of his life in prison since federal time will run consecutively to state sentences.
Nassar was the team physician for the Michigan State University gymnastics and women’s crew teams, as well as an associate professor at MSU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine. He served as the USA Gymnastics physician through four Olympic Games.
“He abused my trust, he abused my body and he left scars on my psyche that may never go away,” Olympic gold medalist McKayla Maroney said in a victim statement submitted to Neff and published online.
Nassar’s attorneys had asked the federal judge for leniency in court filings, arguing Nassar had helped fellow inmates and taken Bible classes since his arrest nearly a year ago, the State Journal said.
(Reporting by Chris Kenning in Chicago; editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Marguerita Choy)