US Olympic doctor faces trial for sexual abuse of athletes

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A former doctor to gymnasts from successive US Olympic teams is to stand trial on charges that he sexually assaulted female athletes, one of whom was only 11, over almost two decades.

A Michigan court on Friday said Larry Nassar will face 17 counts of criminal sexual conduct, a ruling that followed three days of hearings during which six of his accusers testified.

The 53-year-old, a member of USA Gymnastics from 1996 to 2015, maintained a practice at Michigan State University before he was fired last year.

He denies abusing his position to assault young girls.

At Friday’s final hearing, Judge Donald Allen Jr watched video of a police interview in which Nassar claimed the acts that one alleged victim considered assault were in fact medical treatment.

The recording helped corroborate some statements made by Nassar’s accusers, and that the doctor’s words helped establish enough cause to take the case to trial, the judge said.

Prosecutor Angela Povilaitis had recounted victims’ testimony in graphic detail, saying Nassar would digitally penetrate the women’s vaginas, without gloves, under the guise of medical care.

One girl, identified only as Victim A, was 11 years old at the time of the alleged abuse and is now 16, the prosecutor said, adding that at least two victims claimed Nassar displayed signs of arousal during the abuse.

One of those who testified was Rachael Denhollander, 32, who has publicly revealed her identity in accusing Nassar of sexually abusing her when she was 15 years old.

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