(ABC NEWS) – A former doctor accused of molesting girls while working for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University pleaded guilty Wednesday to multiple charges of sexual assault and will face at least 25 years in prison.
Larry Nassar, 54, admitted to abusing seven girls, mostly under the guise of treatment at his Lansing-area home and a campus clinic. All but one of his accusers was a gymnast. He faces similar charges in a neighboring county and lawsuits filed by more than 125 women and girls. Nassar lost his license to practice medicine in April.
Olympic gymnasts Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Gabby Douglas are among the women who have publicly said they were among Nassar’s victims.
Some of his accusers attended the hearing Wednesday in a packed Ingham County courtroom. Some were crying.
“For all those involved … I’m so horribly sorry that this was like a match that turned into a forest fire out of control,” Nassar said. “I pray the rosary every day for forgiveness. I want them to heal. I want the community to heal.”
Nassar admitted to digitally penetrating the victims and agreed that his conduct had no legitimate medical purpose and that he did not have the girls’ consent.
The plea deal in Ingham County calls for a minimum prison sentence of 25 years, but a judge could set the minimum sentence as high as 40 years. In Michigan, inmates are eligible for parole after serving a minimum sentence.
Sentencing was set for Jan. 12.
A prosecutor said 125 women and girls have filed complaints with Michigan State University police.
Judge Rosemarie Aquilina told Nassar: “You used your position of trust … in the most vile way to abuse children. … I agree that now is a time of healing, but it may take them a lifetime of healing while you spend your lifetime behind bars thinking about what you did in taking away their childhood.”
She called the accusers “superheroes for all of America, because this is an epidemic.”
The girls have testified that Nassar molested them with his hands, sometimes when a parent was present in the room, while they sought help for gymnastics injuries.
After the hearing, one of the accusers, Larissa Boyce, said it was “really hard” to look at Nassar in the courtroom.
“This was a man we trusted. He’s admitting what he did was wrong and evil,” she said.
Separately, Nassar is charged with similar crimes in Eaton County, the location of an elite gymnastics club. He also is awaiting sentencing in federal court on child pornography charges.
The Michigan criminal cases against Nassar followed reports last year in the Indianapolis Star about how USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians, mishandled complaints about sexual misconduct involving the doctor and coaches. Women and girls said the stories inspired them to step forward with detailed allegations of abuse, sometimes when their parents were in the exam room at Michigan State.
(ABC NEWS) – Yet another Olympic gymnast is claiming she was abused by former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar.
Following accusations of sexual abuse by gymnasts McKayla Maroney and Aly Raisman, their former teammate Gabby Douglas came forward Tuesday with her accusation.
Douglas said in a statement Tuesday posted to Instagram that she had not previously spoken in public about the alleged abuse it because she felt she was “conditioned” to stay silent.
“I didn’t publicly share my experiences as well as many other things because for years we were conditioned to stay silent and honestly some things were extremely painful,” she wrote. “I wholeheartedly support my teammates for coming forward with what happened to them.”
ABC News has contacted a lawyer for Nassar for comment on Douglas’ accusation.
Last week, after Raisman posted a tweet encouraging women to “wear what you feel good in” without fear of shame, Douglas replied, saying, “it is our responsibility as women to dress modestly and be classy. dressing in a provocative/sexual way entices the wrong crowd.”
Douglas’ tweet caused backlash on social media and even drew criticism from teammate Simone Biles.
“I didn’t view my comments as victim shaming because I know that no matter what you wear, it NEVER gives anyone the right to harass or abuse you,” Douglas wrote. “It would be like saying that because of the leotards we wore, it was our fault that we were abused by Larry Nassar.”
Douglas later deleted the tweet and apologized to her teammates and followers, saying, “regardless of what you wear, abuse under any circumstances is never acceptable. i am WITH you. #metoo.”
“it’s very humbling when many people look up to you as an example,” she said. “I take my job as a role model very seriously and I always want to do my best to represent all the best qualities that a role model should embody. I admit there are times that I fall short.”
In February, Nassar was charged in Michigan with 22 counts of criminal sexual conduct from his time working at Michigan State University. Five of those counts relate to victims who were under 13 years old, prosecutors said.
Nassar has previously pleaded not guilty to the charges, but The Associated Press reported Tuesday that Nassar plans to plead guilty to multiple charges and will face at least 25 years in prison, citing a person with knowledge of the plea agreement.
Nassar is also facing similar charges in Eaton County, which is home to an elite gymnastics club, and is awaiting sentencing on federal child pornography charges, according to the AP.