Michigan sports doctor to stand trial on sex assault charges

FILE - In this Feb. 17, 2017, file photo, Dr. Larry Nassar listens to testimony of a witness during a preliminary hearing, in Lansing, Mich. The longtime sports doctor at Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics has been ordered to stand trial on charges alleging he sexually assaulted six young gymnasts while they sought treatment for injuries. Judge Donald Allen Jr. made his decision Friday, June 23 in Mason, Mich., after hearing testimony from the gymnasts and watching a police interview of the doctor. (Robert Killips /Lansing State Journal via AP)

MASON, Mich. (AP) — A judge on Friday ordered a longtime doctor at Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics to stand trial on charges of sexually assaulting six young gymnasts who said he molested them while they were seeking treatment for various injuries.

Judge Donald Allen Jr. made his decision in Mason, Michigan, after hearing testimony from the gymnasts over two days and watching a police interview of the doctor, Larry Nassar.

“He convinced these girls that this was some type of legitimate treatment,” Assistant Attorney General Angela Poviliatis told Allen during the hearing. “Why would they question him? Why would they question this gymnastics god?”

The gymnasts consistently said that Nassar penetrated them with his ungloved hands, sometimes while their parents were in the room, at his Michigan State clinic, his home and at a Lansing-area gymnastics club. Some allegations go back to 2000.

Nassar was a doctor at Michigan State and at USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians, until last year.

Prosecutors played a video of a 40-minute interview between campus police and Nassar last summer. He said he doesn’t get sexual pleasure from treating gymnasts. But he also said that if he had an erection, as a gymnast claimed, “that’s rather embarrassing.”

Nassar also is facing three more criminal cases, including one in federal court alleging he possessed child pornography. He’s pleaded not guilty. Separately, he’s being sued by dozens of women and girls.

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