MASON, Mich. — A former USA Gymnastics team doctor pleaded not guilty Tuesday to three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct in his Michigan home with a girl under 13.
Larry Nassar of Holt in suburban Lansing, who was arrested Monday while running an errand at a local tire store, was arraigned by video from jail. The alleged assaults against the girl occurred between 1998 and 2005, from the age of 6 until she was 12.
Magistrate Mark Blumer, who set bond at $1 million, said the allegations are not related to Nassar’s time as a gymnastics doctor. His attorneys said the family hoped to post 10 per cent so he could be freed later in the day.
"Based on the probable cause here, which I have to take into consideration, this constitutes clear predatory behaviour on a child," Blumer said. "For that reason, I believe the public danger is enhanced by the facts as the court is so far aware of."
Assistant state attorney general Angela Povilaitis had asked that bond be denied or, in the alternate, that a very high amount be imposed.
"She has come forward bravely to report this and to co-operate and prosecute this case," she said. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, who is investigating at the request of Michigan State University’s campus police, was scheduled to speak about the case at an afternoon news conference.
If the bond is paid, Nassar will be prohibited from unsupervised presence with anyone under 18, including his children. He also will wear an electronic tether and must surrender his passport.
A preliminary exam is scheduled for Dec. 15.
The 53-year-old has been under scrutiny since two gymnasts, including a member of the 2000 U.S. women’s Olympic team, accused him of sexual abuse during what were supposed to be medical treatments.
Shannon Smith, one of Nassar’s lawyers, told reporters that his wife — who was in the courtroom — and "hundreds of people support him 100 per cent. We have received countless emails and communications from other doctors, physicians, physical therapists, ex-patients, ex-coworkers supporting him." Another attorney, Matt Newburg, told The Associated Press that it was not uncommon for Nassar to treat patients in his house.
Nassar was fired in September by Michigan State, where he was a faculty member. In October, a former gymnast who was on the national team from 2006 to 2011 filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles, alleging Nassar repeatedly sexually abused her and renowned husband-and-wife coaches Bella and Martha Karolyi turned a blind eye to molestations.
Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics previously said that it cut ties with Nassar after learning of athlete concerns about him in the summer of 2015.
The attorney general has said his department is in the best position to prosecute the case instead of the local prosecutor because it is believed to have crossed into multiple jurisdictions in Michigan and "possibly across states lines."