Lawrence Gerard Nassar, 54, of Holt, Michigan, was sentenced to 60 years in federal prison for child-pornography and obstruction-of-justice offenses, U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge announced today. U.S. District Judge Janet T. Neff ordered the federal sentence to be served consecutive to the sentences he receives in state court. In addition to the prison term, Nassar must also register as a sex offender, and, if released from prison, he will be subject to a lifetime term of supervised release.
In July of this year, Nassar pleaded guilty in federal court to receiving child pornography in 2004, possessing child pornography from 2003 to 2016, and destroying and concealing evidence in 2016 when he believed, correctly, that ongoing investigation by law enforcement would reveal his child-pornography activities. As part of a plea agreement, Nassar agreed not to oppose a sentencing enhancement for engaging in a pattern of activity involving the sexual abuse or exploitation of minors. That enhancement, based on his extensive history of personally sexually molesting minors, increased his advisory U.S. Sentencing Guideline range by over 70%. This is the same enhancement that would have applied had he been convicted of additional federal charges related to his hands-on misconduct, such as for traveling interstate with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct. By the time of his sentencing, Nassar faced an advisory guideline range of 30 years to life in prison, capped by the combined statutory maximum for the three counts of 60 years.
Dozens of victims participated in the federal sentencing proceeding by submitting written victim-impact statements to the Court. The victims wrote about the pain and trauma Nassar caused them, their shattered trust and innocence, the enduring impact this conduct has had on their lives, and their desire to see justice. The victims called on the Court to severely punish Nassar and protect others from further acts of sexual predation.
In announcing the sentence, Judge Neff left no doubt that “maximum potential penalties are in order here.” She found the case “unique.” The images Nassar collected were numerous and “like none other that I’ve seen.” She expressed dismay that Nassar was a doctor and was troubled by the thought that he might have “felt omnipotent” for getting away with sexually assaulting his victims when their mother was in the room. “I am a mom. I cannot imagine [the anguish those mothers must feel].” She chastised Nassar for violating the most basic tenant of medicine – “Do no harm.” Finally, the Judge expressed deep concern for the victims’ sense of self-worth that was destroyed. She concluded that Nassar “is, was, and will be a danger to children.” “It is through consecutive sentencing that I can protect young children.”
Following the sentencing, U.S. Attorney Birge said: “Today was a day of reckoning for Larry Nassar. He more than deserves this punishment for what he did. He consumed child pornography on a massive scale. We found 37,000 images of child pornography on his computers. Insatiable hunger of that nature simply encourages those who produce such images to continue to sexually exploit children. Compounding his danger to the public, Nassar was an insidious hands-on child predator in his own right. He took advantage of family friendships. And he treated his license to practice medicine as a license to sexually molest children. Thanks to the brave victims who came forward, we learned the full scope of his depravity. The breadth and dark depth of his heinous acts are extraordinary.”
U.S. Attorney Birge added: “My heart goes out to the victims– those in the images and those he personally sexually molested. With today’s sentencing, I hope his victims find a sense of renewed self-worth in knowing their role in this outcome. And I hope they and the public find some measure of solace and reassurance in knowing that Nassar has been held accountable for his actions. Anyone who exploits children will be found out and held accountable regardless of their position or station in life.” U.S. Attorney Birge then expressed his thanks to the victims for making the outcome possible in this case and he thanked the FBI and Michigan State University Police for their efforts in support of the charges.
“Today’s sentencing represents an important achievement as we take another step in this long process of holding Nassar accountable for his shocking predatory acts of child sexual abuse and exploitation,” said David P. Gelios, Special Agent in Charge, Detroit Division of the FBI. “I want to thank those involved at the FBI in Detroit and Los Angeles, Michigan State University Police Department, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for their tireless work to bring Nassar to justice. This punishment of a man who once held a position of trust and enjoyed the trust and respect of many should serve as a warning to those who prey upon and sexually exploit children that there will be severe consequences for crimes of this nature. My thoughts are with all the victims whose lives have been forever impacted.”
Michigan State University Police Chief Jim Dunlap commented that: “The Michigan State University Police Department appreciates the effective collaboration with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to achieve a measure of justice for the survivors.”
This case is part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, county prosecutor’s offices, the Internet Crimes Against Children task force (ICAC), federal, state, tribal, and local law enforcement are working closely together to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children. The partners in Project Safe Childhood work to educate local communities about the dangers of online child exploitation, and to teach children how to protect themselves.