BY: Lisa Esser-Weidenfeller | IN: Personal Injury
At least six civil lawsuits have been filed against Dr. Larry Nassar, increasing the number of plaintiffs to 30. These suits also name as co-defendants – Michigan State University, USA Gymnastics, and Twistars Gymnastics Club in Dimondale among others. The lawsuits are currently pending in federal court in Grand Rapids.
The lawsuits detail two decades of sexual assaults against girls as young as nine. The alleged sexual assaults are said to have included vaginal and anal penetration by Nassar’s fingers without gloves and absent consent by either the patient or parents. The lack of gloves is a violation of Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs’ Occupational Health Standards.
Nassar has also been criminally charged in Ingham County and federal court in Grand Rapids. In Ingham County, he is facing three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a person younger than 13. In federal court, he is charged with possessing 37,000 images and videos of child pornography found on his home computers. He is being held in jail without bond. Nassar has denied all allegations of wrongdoing.
Nassar worked as a team physician at MSU for nearly 20 years and with USA Gymnastics for about 30. The civil lawsuits allege that Nassar sexually assaulted female minors and young women during medical procedures spanning from 1996 to 2016. Most of the assaults are said to have occurred at Nassar’s Michigan State University clinic and in a backroom at Twistars.
Only now are Nassar’s victims starting to come forward. Since September 2016, more than 60 women and girls have told law enforcement officials that Nassar assaulted them. Most of the abuse occurred during medical appointments, with some of the abuse even caught on tape. Nassar was held in high regard at Michigan State and USA Gymnastics. Until now, many victims were afraid no one would listen, or even worse, that they would believe Nassar over them and would be subjected to negative repercussions for coming forward.
According to USA Gymnastics, they first learned of concerns regarding Nassar in the summer of 2015. After that, they notified the FBI and suspended any further assignments. MSU continued to employ Nassar until 2016.
The lawsuits allege that Michigan State University coaches and their respective staffs were informed of sexual assault allegations against Nassar as early as 1999 but failed to take any action. As a result, the abuses continued, and the victims grew. In 2014, another report of assault was reported to MSU against Nassar, finally prompting MSU to investigate. Unfortunately, that investigation by MSU’s Title IX Office and University Police cleared Nassar of any wrongdoing, and no action was taken to cease Nassar’s activities. Interestingly, MSU cleared Nassar, in part, due to the opinions of four medical experts with close ties to Nassar and MSU. The abuse continued until September 2016 when Nassar was finally terminated and arrested.
Only one of the over 30 plaintiffs has been identified by her true name, the rest have used Jane Doe pseudonyms. This is important for victims to know so that they can be assured they can come forward without having to expose the truth about what happened to them to the entire world if they are not ready for that kind of exposure.
We understand that it may be incredibly difficult to find the strength to speak up for yourself if you were a victim. However, you are not alone, and we are here to guide you every step of the way. We urge you to speak up and become a voice with all of the other victims who have come forward. You deserve to be heard. Please contact Lisa Esser-Weidenfeller today.
Photo credit: www.wthr.com
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Lisa Esser-Weidenfeller focuses her practice on medical malpractice, automobile negligence, and general negligence litigation on behalf injured plaintiffs.