Key dates show former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State trainer’s lengthy campaign of sexual abuse, resulting in trial and MSU’s $500M settlement to survivors
For decades, Larry Nassar was entrusted with the care of young athletes, notably as a trainer with USA Gymnastics (USAG) and Michigan State University (MSU). In 2019 a list of women have came forward with graphic accounts alleging he violated that trust by sexually abusing them under the guise of medical treatment. Nassar, who attended the Summer Olympics with USA Gymnastics from 1996 through 2008, was found guilty of possession of child pornography and criminal sexual assault, with a civil suit still pending. In its wake, Michigan State agreed to pay $500 million to survivors of Nassar’s abuse.
The facade of decency surrounding Nassar, one maintained in part by institutions like USAG and MSU, which missed or outright disregarded multiple opportunities to investigate claims of misconduct, began to fall apart in late 2016 when the Indianapolis Star published a piece on USAG’s mishandling of allegations of sexual abuse by coaches.
In the months that followed, more than 140 women, including prominent Olympic medal-winning gymnasts such as Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Simone Biles, would share harrowing accounts describing abuse, or file lawsuits against Nassar and the institutions that they say enabled him for so many years.
Below is a timeline of key dates from Nassar’s career with USAG and MSU, the allegations against him, the accounts of alleged abuse shared by prominent athletes, and the ongoing court cases. We’ve used the real names of victims who have identified themselves.
This timeline will be updated with new developments and as more information becomes available.
Larry Nassar joins the medical staff of USA Gymnastics as an athletic trainer.
Nassar begins working as a volunteer trainer with youth gymnastics coach John Geddert in Michigan.
While still a medical student at Michigan State, Nassar assaults a 12-year-old girl under the guise of medical research, according to a lawsuit joined by the woman in 2017. The alleged assaults took place at a gymnastics facility near Lansing as well as Nassar’s apartment.
Nassar receives osteopathic medical degree from Michigan State University.
As part of a 2016 lawsuit, Olympic medalist Jamie Dantzscher says that she was abused by Nassar beginning when she was 12 years old after she was sent for treatment for lower back pain. Dantzscher says that the abuse occurred over a six-year period.
Nassar is named national medical coordinator for USA Gymnastics ahead of the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. In the same year, youth gymnastics coaches John and Kathryn Geddert open Twistars USA Gymnastics Club. John Geddert and Twistars will later be named in a civil lawsuit for allegedly failing to protect children who trained at the gym.
Nassar is named gymnastics team physician and assistant professor at Michigan State University.
A parent complains to Geddert about Nassar’s medical treatments, according to a lawsuit filed in 2017. The lawsuit states that Geddert failed to investigate the allegations and continued to recommend Nassar as a doctor to athletes.
Larissa Boyce, a 16-year-old high school student in Williamston, Mich., sees Nassar for treatment after injuring her back at an MSU youth gymnastics program. According to her account shared with the Detroit News in January 2018, she was abused by Nassar during treatment. She recalls telling a coach, who then instructed her to tell Michigan State gymnastics coach Kathie Klages.
“She just couldn’t believe that was happening,” said Boyce, now 37. “She said I must be misunderstanding what was going on.”
Nassar abuses Kyle Stephens, the 6-year-old daughter of a friend, according to court documents. In a 2018 Victim Impact Statement, Stephens details abuse that went on for years and says that Nassar convinced her parents to disregard her earlier accounts.
A Michigan State cross country athlete tells athletic program staff she was sexually assaulted by Nassar while receiving treatment for an injured hamstring, according to her lawsuit filed in 2017. According to the athlete, her concerns were dismissed by a coach who said Nassar was “an Olympic doctor” and “knew what he was doing.”
Michigan State softball player Tiffany Thomas Lopez tells three university athletic trainers and one staff member that Nassar was sexually inappropriate during medical treatments, according to her statements to MLive. According to her 2016 lawsuit, Lopez says she was told that “she was fortunate to receive the best medical care possible from a world-renowned doctor.”
USA Gymnastics member Rachael Denhollander alleges being sexually assaulted by Nassar while receiving treatment for lower back pain. She was 15 years old at the time.
Nassar attends the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney as the U.S. women’s artistic gymnastics team physician.
Nassar solicited and received child pornography, according to an unsealed 2016 federal indictment.
A 17-year-old visits Nassar for treatment for scoliosis. After Nassar abuses the young woman during the visit, she and her mother report the incident to the Meridian Township Police Department. Nassar defends his actions to police as valid medical treatment, using a PowerPoint presentation as supporting evidence. No charges are made. A redacted police report related to the incident was released on Jan. 30, 2017.
Nassar attends the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, once again as the U.S. women’s artistic gymnastics team physician.
Michigan State graduate Amanda Thomashow reports to Dr. Jeff Kovan of the MSU Sports Medicine Clinic that she was sexually assaulted by Nassar during a medical examination to treat a hip injury she sustained in high school. University president Lou Anna K. Simon is made aware of a Title IX complaint, and that a police report had been filed against an unnamed physician.
Nassar continues to treat patients for 16 months during the MSU Police Department investigation. The university investigation did not pass any information to prosecutors until July 2015. In December 2015, a prosecutor tells police that Nassar would not be charged.
Aug. 4, 2016
The Indianapolis Star publishes an ongoing investigation into sexual abuse inside USA Gymnastics, which is the first time the story is learned about by the wider public.
Aug. 5, 2016
The United States Senate writes a letter to USAG president and CEO Steve Penny expressing its concern over the Indianapolis Star report and urging USAG to take immediate steps to report the complaints received and install future safeguards.
“The report details failures by USA Gymnastics to alert authorities of sex abuse allegations against several coaches, despite being notified of serious allegations on numerous occasions. Some allegations were allowed to linger for years before any action was taken, leaving young victims in the supervision of sexual predators.”
Aug. 29, 2016
Denhollander files police complaint against Nassar with Michigan State University police. She alleges that she was sexually assaulted by Nassar in 2000 when she was 15 years old.
Aug. 30, 2016
Nassar is reassigned from all clinical duties at Michigan State University.
Sept. 8, 2016
The first-known accuser files a civil suit against Nassar, alleging abuse from 1994-2000.
Sept. 12, 2016
Denhollander and an unnamed Olympic medal-winning gymnast speak with the Indianapolis Star to tell their stories and allegations of abuse by Nassar while competing.
In response to the Indy Star story, USAG issues a statement indicating that Nassar was “relieved of his duties” in 2015:
Immediately after learning of athlete concerns about Dr. Nassar in the summer of 2015, Steve Penny, president and CEO of USA Gymnastics, notified law enforcement. We also relieved Dr. Nassar of his duties, and he ceased to be affiliated with USA Gymnastics. USA Gymnastics has cooperated fully with the law enforcement agency since we first notified them of the matter, including – at their request – refraining from making further statements or taking any other action that might interfere with the agency’s investigation. We are grateful to the athletes for coming forward to share their concerns when they did.
Shortly after the USAG statement, Nassar’s lawyer issued a response to the Indy Star indicating that his client was never “relieved of his duties,” but that he retired.
Sept. 20, 2016
Michigan State fires Nassar. In a statement to the Lansing State Journal the school says:
“Over the past week, the university received additional information that raised serious concerns about Nassar’s compliance with certain employment requirements.”
Nov. 22, 2016
Nassar is charged with three counts of first degree criminal sexual abuse. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette reveals during a press conference that roughly 50 complaints have been received during his office’s investigation into Nassar.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Schuette said, via the Lansing State Journal.
Dec. 16, 2016
In a separate case, Nassar is indicted on federal child pornography charges.
Jan. 10, 2017
Eighteen women file a lawsuit in federal court against Nassar, Michigan State, USA Gymnastics, and Twistars Gymnastics Club. The suit includes sexual assault allegations against Nassar ranging from 1996 through 2016, and it claims that more women were exposed to his predation due to the inaction of the institutions named during those years.
Jan. 24, 2017
The state of Michigan suspends Nassar’s medical license.
Feb. 3, 2017
In a “Letter to the Spartan Community,” Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon outlines the school’s version of events, saying, “MSU has taken a proactive approach to responding to this situation.”
Feb. 13, 2017
Michigan State gymnastics coach Kathie Klages is suspended after court records show two women say she discouraged them from filing sexual assault complaints against Nassar in the late 1990s. Klages retires from Michigan State the following day.
Feb. 22, 2017
Nassar faces an additional 22 charges of sexual assault. The first-degree criminal sexual conduct charges relate to Nassar’s work at Michigan State University’s Sports Medicine clinic and Twistars Gymnastics Club. The total number of complaints is now more than 80.
“This guy is a monster,” says Michigan AG Bill Schuette during a press conference, via the Lansing State Journal.
April 13, 2017
Simon updates Michigan State’s board of trustees on the investigation, saying:
“I have been told it is virtually impossible to stop a determined sexual predator and pedophile, that they will go to incomprehensible lengths to keep what they do in the shadows. That may be true, but we at MSU must do all we can not only to ensure the safety of our patients but to protect youth who come to our campus in all capacities. As part of a broader programmatic effort that began in 2013, we recently held a workshop for all MSU youth program directors that focused on promoting the safety of minors at MSU, and we will roll out an enhanced youth protection policy and additional education within the next 30 days.”
June 30, 2017
Twenty-three more women and girls join a federal lawsuit against Nassar. There are now over 100 complaints against him.
July 11, 2017
Nassar pleads guilty to child pornography charges in a Michigan federal court.
Oct. 18, 2017
2012 Olympic medalist McKayla Maroney alleges she was abused by Nassar and explains what happened as part of a #MeToo post on Twitter.
Michigan State University asks federal officials to stop monitoring the school, saying they acted in “good faith” and went “above and beyond” in meeting standards set by federal officials.
Nov. 10, 2017
2012 and 2016 Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman alleges she was abused by Nassar as well.
— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) November 10, 2017
Nov. 20, 2017
Nassar pleads guilty to seven counts of first-degree criminal sexual misconduct in Ingham County Circuit Court as part of a plea agreement.
Nov. 21, 2017
2012 and 2016 Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas alleges she too was abused by Nassar.
Nov. 29, 2017
Nassar pleads guilty to three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct in Eaton County Circuit Court as part of plea agreement.
Dec. 7, 2017
Nassar is sentenced to 60 years in prison on federal child pornography charges.
Dec. 20, 2017
A lawsuit filed on McKayla Maroney’s behalf says that USA Gymnastics paid her to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) in late 2016 so she wouldn’t talk about abuse by Nassar. “They were willing to engage in a systematic cover-up of the entire matter,” Maroney’s attorney, John Manly, told ESPN.
Jan. 10, 2018
Raisman says USAG is “100 percent responsible” for the abuse by Nassar.
Jan. 15, 2018
2016 Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles alleges she is also a survivor of Nassar’s abuse.
Jan. 16-24, 2018
156 women read Victim Impact Statements during a eight-day sentencing hearing for Nassar in Ingham County Circuit Court in Michigan. Kyle Stephens opened the testimony with a powerful account of abuse by Nassar beginning in 1998 when she was 6 years old:
“You used my body for six years, for your own sexual gratification. That is unforgivable. I’ve been coming for you for a long time. I told counselors your name in the hopes they would report you. I have reported you to child protective services twice. I gave a testament to get your medical license revoked. You were first arrested on my charges, and now, as the only non-medical victim to come forward, I testify to let the world know that you are a repulsive liar. And that those “treatments” were pathetically veiled sexual abuse. Perhaps you have figured it out by now, but little girls don’t stay little forever. They grow into strong women that return to destroy your world.”
Jan. 19, 2018
Michigan State’s Board of Trustees sends a letter to AG Bill Schuette requesting an investigation of the university’s handling of the allegations against Nassar.
“After watching many of these heartbreaking statements and reading accounts about them, we have concluded that only a review by your office can resolve the questions in a way that the victims, their families, and the public will deem satisfactory and that will help all those affected by Nassar’s horrible crimes to heal.”
“Through this terrible situation, the university has been perceived as tone deaf, unresponsive and insensitive to the victims. We understand the public’s faith has been shaken. The Board has listened and heard the victims. Today, the Board acted and has asked the Attorney General’s Office to review the facts in this matter, and as information is presented, the Board will act. This can never happen again. As part of the Board’s oversight authority, we will retain independent external assistance to support our responsibilities to the university community and the public at large. We continue to believe President Simon is the right leader for the university and she has our support.”
Jan. 22, 2018
USA Gymnastics announces that its board of directors executive leadership — Chairman Paul Parilla, Vice Chairman Jay Binder & Treasurer Bitsy Kelley — all tendered their resignation, effective Jan. 21, 2018. In a statement, USAG president and CEO Kerry Perry said the following:
“USA Gymnastics thanks Paul Parilla, Jay Binder and Bitsy Kelley for their many years of service to this organization. We support their decisions to resign at this time. We believe this step will allow us to more effectively move forward in implementing change within our organization.
As the board identifies its next chair and fills the vacant board positions, we remain focused on working every day to ensure that our culture, policies and actions reflect our commitment to those we serve.”
A 15-year-old survivor of Nassar testifies in court that she was assaulted by him one week before he was fired by MSU. There are report the MSU Sports Clinic is still attempting to bill the girl’s family for the appointment. The university later says it will not bill patients of Nassar.
USA Gymnastics suspends former U.S. women’s gymnastics national team coach John Geddert on Monday, according to the Lansing State Journal and ESPN. Geddert operated two gyms that worked with trainer Larry Nassar, who has been accused of sexual assaulting more than 150 women over decades associated with USAG and Michigan State University.
”John Geddert has been suspended under the interim measures provisions of Section 10.5 of USA Gymnastics’ Bylaws. USA Gymnastics is unable to comment further as this is a pending matter.”
The bylaw under which Geddert is being suspended gives USAG the right to suspend members to “ensure the safety and well-being of the gymnastics community or where an allegation is sufficiently serious that an Adverse Party’s continued participation could be detrimental to the sport or its reputation.”
Jan. 24, 2018
Judge Rosemarie Aquilina sentences Larry Nassar to 40-to-175 years in prison on seven counts of criminal sexual assault. During sentencing Judge Aquilina states that her sentence will begin after Nassar completed his 60-year federal sentence for child pornography, saying:
“I find that you don’t get it. That you are a danger. You remain a danger. I am a judge who believes in life and rehabilitation, when rehabilitation is possible. I have many defendants come back and show me the great things they’ve done in their lives after probation, after parole. I don’t find that’s possible with you.”
We Must Change the Culture of the Sport
We Must Change the Governance Structure of the NGB
We Must Know Who Knew What and When
We Must Support Safe Sport Victims and Survivors
Read the full USOC letter HERE.
MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon resigns from her position hours after the Nassar sentencing hearing is completed. The resignation comes amid growing calls for her to step down.
As tragedies are politicized, blame is inevitable. As president, it is only natural that I am the focus of this anger. I understand, and that is why I have limited my personal statements. Throughout my career, I have worked very hard to put Team MSU first. Throughout my career, I have consistently and persistently spoken and worked on behalf of Team MSU. I have tried to make it not about me. I urge those who have supported my work to understand that I cannot make it about me now. Therefore, I am tendering my resignation as president according to the terms of my employment agreement.
Read her full resignation letter HERE.
Jan. 25, 2018
U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scot Blackmun writes a letter to USAG indicating that it will be decertified as the sport’s national governing body if it fails to meet six conditions by specified dates. Prominent among the conditions is the resignation by the USAG board of directors by Jan. 31.
“We do not base these requirements on any knowledge that any individual USAG staff or board members had a role in fostering or obscuring Nassar’s actions,” Blackmun write. “Our position comes from a clear sense that USAG culture needs fundamental rebuilding.”
Read the full USOC letter HERE.
In a statement posted to its website along with a copy of the USOC letter, USAG indicates that it “completely embraces the requirements.”
Jan. 26, 2018
Michigan State Athletic Director Mark Hollis announces his retirement. He had been MSU’s AD since January 2008. In a statement, he expresses his willingness to cooperate with ongoing investigations.
“Our campus, and beyond, has been attacked by evil, an individual who broke trust and so much more. As a campus community, we must do everything we can to ensure this never happens again; to make sure any sexual assault never occurs. But to do so, we must listen and learn lessons. Only then can we truly begin the process of healing. I have tried to do this since first learning about the abuse in September 2016.”
Read the complete statement HERE.
Jan. 31, 2018
A sentencing hearing for Nassar begins in Eaton County Circuit Court in Michigan, where he pleaded guilty to three counts of criminal sexual conduct in November. At least 65 women are expected to testify in court or submit statements, according to The Detroit News.
USA Gymnastics announces the resignations of all members of its Board of Directors. The official statement comes on the deadline previously set by the United States Olympic Committee to avoid decertification as the sports national governing body.
We are in the process of moving forward with forming an interim Board of Directors during the month of February, in accordance with the USOC’s requirements. USA Gymnastics will provide information about this process within the next few days.
USA Gymnastics embraces not only the changes necessary as called for by the USOC and the Deborah Daniels report, but we also will hold the organization to the highest standards of care and safety in further developing a culture of empowerment for our athletes and members.
Read the complete statement HERE.
Michigan State University’s Board of Trustees unanimously votes to appoint former Michigan Governor John Engler as interim president of the university. Engler, an MSU graduate, will assume his duties Feb. 5.
“As the father of three daughters who just completed their undergraduate degrees, I put myself in the place of every parent who has sent their loved one to this great institution,” Engler said in a statement releaed by MSU. “I understand the concern and uncertainty as well as the frustration and anger. To those parents, be assured that I will move forward as if my own daughters were on this campus and will treat every student as I would my own daughters.”
Read MSU’s complete announcement HERE.
Feb. 5, 2018
Judge Janice Cunningham sentences Larry Nassar to 40 to 125 years in prison on three charges of criminal sexual misconduct in Eaton County Court. The Eaton County case involves sexual assaults at Twistars Gymnastics Club.
Feb. 28, 2018
Scott Blackmun announces his resignation as CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee. The 60-year-old, who did not attend the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea with Team USA, cited health problems as the reason for his departure. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in January.
The USOC announces new reforms and initiatives in response to abuses of Larry Nassar, including providing funding and resources for support and counseling for gymnasts impacted.
Read complete USOC announcement HERE.
Mar. 27, 2018
William Strampel, Nassar’s former boss and former dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Michigan State is arrested for felony misconduct in office and fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, along with two counts of willful neglect of duty. Court affidavits outline how he groped and harrassed students, possessed pornography containing images of students and reported details to Nassar during the school’s Title IX investigation into him in 2014.
Apr. 13, 2018
A Nassar survivor spoke at a Michigan State University board meeting and outlined how interim president, former governor John Engler, attempted to coerce her to take a settlement and drop he civil case against the school. In addition, the survivor alleges that Engler lied to her about Rachel Denhollander accepting a buyout.
Gasps and outrage in the board room today when a Nassar survivor describes in great detail how she says MSU Interim President John Engler attempted to coerce her into settling her case against the university. @FOX2News Listen: pic.twitter.com/GiAbpR1S8f
— Kellie Rowe (@kellierowe) April 13, 2018
May 1, 2018
Former USA Gymnastics coaches Bela and Martha Karolyi file a lawsuit against USA Gymnastics asking over $1 million in damages for failing to honor a lease agreement, and for not living up to a promise that USA Gymnastics would “wrap their arms” around the Karolyis to prevent fallout from the Larry Nassar trial.
May 16, 2018
Michigan State agrees to a $500M settlement with survivors who filed a class action lawsuit against the university for failing to protect them from Larry Nassar.
June 29, 2018
Former USA Gymnastics director of sports medicine services Debbie Van Horn was indicted along with Nassar in Texas for what Walker County assistant attorney Stephanie Stroud called, “a total failure by USAG to protect the athletes that were part of their program and to take appropriate action once they were made aware of Dr. Nassar’s actions.”
No charges were brought for any other USAG officials, and no evidence of criminal wrongdoing was found against former team directors Bela and Martha Karolyi. “It’s good that they’re holding more people accountable but they’re not holding accountable the people who are really responsible for what Larry did to us and that’s the Karolyis,” said former USA gymnast Jeanette Antolin, one of Nassar’s victims.
August 23, 2018
Former Michigan State University gymnastics coach Kathy Clages is charged with two counts of lying to police after an ongoing investigation uncovered that Clages was aware of abuse by Nassar, but told police she had no knowledge of being told by survivors.
October 18, 2018
Former President and CEO of USA Gymnastics Steve Penny is arrested in Tennessee following an indictment for tampering with evidence. Prosecutors claim that Penny ordered the removal of key documents from Karolyi Ranch, a training facility in Texas, after he learned that Nassar was being investigated for sexual abuse.
November 20, 2018
Former Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon is charged with lying to state police during a probe into Larry Nassar. Simon was asked in May is she was aware Nassar was being investigated in 2016, to which charges claim she responded saying she knew a sports physician was being investigated — but not who. New documents purport to show that Simon was aware is was Nassar who was under investigation.
December 5, 2018
USA Gymnastics files for bankruptcy in the wake of USOC deciding to vote for decertifying the group, as well as outstanding civil lawsuits that have yet to be resolves. A lawyer representing 180 survivors issued a statement saying:
“The leadership of USA Gymnastics has proven itself to be both morally and financially bankrupt,” Manly added. “They have inflicted and continue to inflict unimaginable pain on survivors and their families.”
December 21, 2018
A Michigan attorney general’s report reveals Michigan State staffers may have been aware of complaints about Nassar, but failed to report concerns to administrative staff or USA Gymnastics.
BREAKING: new Michigan AG report on MSU investigation reveals many more MSU staff, athletic trainers, and doctors were told of concerns surrounding Nassar, failed to report
— Kate Wells (@KateLouiseWells) December 21, 2018
January 16, 2019
The Michigan State University Board of Trustees announces it will hold a debate into the future of interim president John Engler after Engler is quoted by the Detroit Free Press insinuating that some of Nassar’s victims are “enjoying” the “spotlight” caused by their abuse.
July 31, 2019
A report indicates that former MSU president Lou Anna Simon will still be paid her $2.45 million retirement package, which includes having her university presidential portait painted. The school reserves the right not to display the portrait, should Simon be convicted of lying to investigators.
February 25, 2021
John Geddert face a vast array of charges stemming from his involvement in the numerous crimes over the years. He was charged with 20 counts of human trafficking and forced labor, one count of first-degree sexual assault, one count of second-degree sexual assault, racketeering, and lying to police. Geddert died of suicide on Thursday, with his death being investigated. The court and lawyers did not believe he was a threat at the time.
September 15, 2021
Simone Biles and others appear in front of a Senate hearing on how the FBI handled information regarding the Larry Nassar case. In her statement Biles blames a system that “enabled and perpetrated his abuse.”
“To be clear, I blame Larry Nassar and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse,” Simone Biles gives her opening statement at a Senate hearing on the FBI’s handling of the Larry Nassar investigation. pic.twitter.com/yPJX0ejnLg
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) September 15, 2021
Read more: sbnation.com