By Nova SAFO, December 22, 2016
CHICAGO (AFP) - A former US Olympic gymnastics team doctor faced growing accusations of sexual misconduct Wednesday, with a judge ordering him held without bond in a child pornography case while a new lawsuit accused him of abusing a patient.
Larry Nassar had served on the US gymnastics team as recently as last year. Michigan State University, where he had his practice, fired him in September after multiple accusations surfaced.
A federal judge in Michigan ordered Nassar held without bond Wednesday after an FBI agent testified that at least 37,000 images and videos of child pornography were recovered on hard drives belonging to the doctor, US media reported.
Some videos showed Nassar sexually assaulting young girls in a pool, agent Rod Charles testified in a court hearing, the Lansing State Journal reported.
Nassar, who was arrested last week, could face a maximum of 40 years in prison if convicted.
The investigation is ongoing and prosecutors have made a broad appeal for information from the public regarding any other similar offenses committed by Nassar in or outside of Michigan, or abroad.
Also Wednesday, former Michigan State University softball player Tiffany Lopez sued the university and Nassar, claiming in a suit filed in Los Angeles that he molested her multiple times while she was a student athlete in the late 1990s.
Lopez, who has spoken out publicly in the case, said the abuse happened during treatments for chronic back pain.
Last month, Nassar was charged by Michigan state prosecutors with sexual misconduct with a victim younger than 13. In that case, the child was not a patient or a gymnast, authorities said.
Nassar's attorney Matt Newburg declined AFP's requests for comment, but other news organizations have reported that Nassar has denied the allegations against him.
He pleaded not guilty to both the state and federal charges.
Nassar's legal woes come as USA Gymnastics is reeling from a recent investigative report by the Indianapolis Star newspaper, which claims at least 368 young gymnasts were sexually assaulted by coaches or other adults involved in the sport.
The newspaper also said USA Gymnastics officials failed to alert authorities when its coaches were accused of sexual abuse.
The organization has said its policies "mandate that when anyone affiliated with USA Gymnastics or member clubs suspect potential abuse, the appropriate legal authorities should be notified."
The organization said it asked a former federal prosecutor to lead an independent review of its policies.
Two former US women's gymnasts have also filed lawsuits against Nassar, accusing him of sexual assault.
Nassar served as the US gymnastics team's doctor at four Olympic Games.
One of the lawsuits, filed in October, also names famed coaches Bela and Martha Karolyi, saying they failed to protect the gymnast.