Larry Nassar confesses in Michigan courtroom to molesting girls under the guise of medical treatment. More than 125 women have filed lawsuits against him.
Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics team doctor, pleaded guilty in a Michigan court on Wednesday to seven counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct.
In a press statement Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said that Nassar had pleaded guilty in Michigan's Ingham County court to felony criminal sexual conduct related to abuse under the guise of medical treatment.
Nassar's sentencing hearing has been set for January 12 when all of the 125 victims or their parents will be allowed to give victim impact statements.
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.
Nassar had originally been charged with 22 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and 11 counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct at the state level but the Michigan Attorney General's office agreed not to file additional charges after Wednesday's plea.
As part of a plea agreement, Nassar admitted to seven counts of abuse. Three of his victims were under 13 years old, and the others were between 13-15 years of age.
Nassar "horribly sorry" for his crimes
A handcuffed and seemingly gaunt Nassar appeared in court in an orange prison jumpsuit.
Speaking softly and at times with heavy sighs, he pleaded guilty with a simple "yes" as each charge was read.
He then addressed the court with a statement.
He said he prayed for his victims and was "horribly sorry" for his crimes, which relate to events in Michigan that took place between 1998 and 2015.
"I want them to heal. I want this community to heal," Nassar said.
Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, addressing both Nassar and victims in the packed courtroom, said the former doctor's words "fall very short."
"You used that position of trust that you had in the most vile way -- to abuse children," Aquilina said.
"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."
Calls for a minimum prison sentence
The plea deal with prosecutors calls for a minimum prison sentence of 25 years but the judge could set the minimum as high as 40 years.
Nassar's plea deal follows claims by two of the United States' s most decorated gymnasts Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas that they had been sexually abused by the former USA Gymnastics team doctor.
Three-times Olympic gold medalist Douglas said on Tuesday that she was sexually abused by Nassar while Raisman, also a three-times gold medalist, made similar allegations in an interview with CBS News program "60 Minutes" on Sunday.
In a statement after the plea in court on Wednesday, Nassar's attorneys, Matt Newburg and Shannon Smith, said that the "agreement resolves all the charged and uncharged conduct for more than 125 cases currently under investigation by the Michigan Attorney General’s office".