Eighteen women have filed a lawsuit against USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University physician Larry Nassar accusing him of multiple counts of sexual assault, battery, molestation and harassment.
A majority of the women were minors at the time of the abuse according to People. Some are still underage. They were from various sports including gymnastics, swimming, figure skating, track and field, hockey, basketball and soccer.
Nassar reportedly committed the crimes by saying the acts were done as medical treatment or physical therapy between the years of 1996 and 2016.
Nassar was charged with two counts of child pornography-related charges less than a month ago. People also reports Nassar was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting two underage gymnasts just a few weeks before that.
The only victim who has been named thus far is Rachael Denhollander. She said in a 2016 interview with IndyStar that Nassar massaged her breasts and penetrated her with his fingers while she was receiving treatment for back pain. She was only 15 years old at the time.
She told reporters on Tuesday, "The fear and shame in myself was my own misunderstanding. The reality of sexual abuse is that a pedophile is only as powerful as people around him allow him to be."
Nassar has worked for USA Gymnastics for 29 years and was held in high regard by the organization for decades, the suit reports.
Larry Nassar, a former team physician for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University, is facing charges of sexual assault and possessing… pic.twitter.com/649mBX2RlC— Olli Stephen (@Step_Ol) January 5, 2017
"When we first learned of athlete concerns regarding Dr. Nassar in the summer of 2015, we immediately notified the FBI and relieved him of any further assignments," the organization reports.
But the lawsuit claims USA Gymnastics failed to notify Michigan State University of its concerns and was, therefore, "grossly negligent."
Michigan State University didn't fire Nassar until September 2016.
The university said in a statement, "We are deeply disturbed by the state and federal criminal charges against Larry Nassar, and our hearts go out to those directly affected."
In a Tuesday news conference, the plaintiffs' attorney, Stephen Drew, explained the purpose of the lawsuit is not monetary gain, but rather to "act as a mechanism to achieve institutional change and non-monetary concessions so that acts of sexual abuse like this will never happen again to young athletes and students."
He added, "Protecting them is more important than enhancing the reputation of the athletic system that invites their participation. Children are vulnerable because they trust, and once that trust and innocence is stolen it cannot be easily restored."
Nassar has reportedly pleaded not guilty to the charges.
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