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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Michigan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Dr. Lawrence Nassar Pleads Guilty To Child Pornography And Obstructing Justice Charges

          GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN – Dr. Lawrence Gerard Nassar, 53, of Holt, Michigan pleaded guilty pursuant to a plea agreement to the three federal criminal charges pending against him, Acting U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge announced today. Nassar pleaded guilty 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. Nassar faces a minimum of five years and a combined maximum of 60 years in prison. Nassar agreed not to oppose a number of sentencing-guideline factors that result in an advisory sentencing range of at least 262 to 327 months (approximately 22-27 years) in prison. Under federal law, the advisory range is the starting point for the court’s determination of an appropriate sentence. While Nassar may pursue a below-guideline sentence, the government remains free to pursue a sentence of up to 60 years.  

          As part of the plea agreement, Nassar agreed not to oppose a sentencing enhancement for engaging in a pattern of activity involving child sexual abuse or exploitation. He also agreed to make full restitution to all of the victims of his sexual exploitation, as determined by the Court at sentencing. The plea agreement provides that the government will forgo charges with respect to four (4) specific individuals, related to the production or attempted production of child pornography and interstate or foreign travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual activity. Nevertheless, the agreement provides that the Court may consider this conduct in determining Nassar’s sentence. In addition, the government noted at the change-of-plea hearing that it had consulted with each of the four (4) individuals specified in the plea agreement and each supported the plea agreement and resolution. The plea agreement does not preclude the government from pursuing additional charges against Nassar related to his conduct with other individuals, if appropriate.

          U.S. District Judge Janet Neff will sentence Nassar on a date to be scheduled by the Court. Under federal sentencing law, the Judge may consider the full scope of Nassar’s misconduct when determining the appropriate sentence, including uncharged misconduct. Specifically, federal law provides that "[n]o limitation shall be placed on the information concerning the background, character, and conduct of a person convicted of an offense which a court of the United States may receive and consider for the purpose of imposing an appropriate sentence." In addition, the federal sentencing guidelines provide for a substantially increased sentence when a defendant has engaged in a pattern of activity involving the sexual abuse or exploitation of minors. Judge Neff will also have the authority to order that Nassar serve the rest of his life on court supervision after he completes his prison term. The law requires Nassar to register as a sexual offender.

          Acting U.S. Attorney Birge said: "With Dr. Nassar’s admissions of guilt on federal charges today, victims and the public can be assured that a day of reckoning is indeed in Dr. Nassar’s future. No one, no matter his station in life, is above the law. Those who exploit children will be found out and they will be held accountable. Today’s guilty plea resolves the currently pending charges and it resolves specific charges with respect to the four individuals referenced in the plea agreement in accordance with their wishes as expressed directly to us. In addition, it ensures that all of Dr. Nassar’s victims, including those who are not victims of the current charges or referenced in the plea agreement, will have an opportunity for vindication through the broad federal sentencing process. My office will be aggressively pursuing a sentence that accounts for all of Dr. Nassar’s conduct."

          "The sexual exploitation of minors is a reoccurring menace in this country and has lasting damaging impacts on its victims," said David P. Gelios, Special Agent in Charge, Detroit Division of the FBI. "The investigation that resulted in today’s guilty plea by Dr. Nassar demonstrates the FBI's commitment to protect our youth from anyone who sexually exploits kids. The safety and security of our children will always be of paramount importance to the FBI and our law enforcement partners."

          "The Michigan State University Police Department is grateful for all of the efforts put forth in these cases by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Michigan," said James Dunlap, Police Chief and Director of the Michigan State University Police Department. "Additionally, we continue to appreciate our long standing partnership with the FBI and all of the work that is taking place in this joint investigation involving the federal matters in the Larry Nassar cases. Today’s plea does not impact the pending criminal sexual conduct cases in Michigan, which are currently being prosecuted by the Michigan Attorney General."

          Persons with information relevant to Nassar’s conduct or sentencing may contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation at 1-800-225-5324 or Reportdrabuse@fbi.gov.

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, 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. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit the following web site: www.projectsafechildhood.gov. Individuals with information or concerns about possible child exploitation should contact local law enforcement officials.

          The Detroit and Los Angeles Divisions of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Michigan State University Police Department (MSUPD) investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean M. Lewis prosecuted the case.

END

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Childhood
Updated July 13, 2017