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16 women to sue USA gymnastics doctor, MSU over sexual abuse

Disgraced doctor Larry Nassar — who is already facing federal child-porn charges, a state sexual-abuse rap, and a lawsuit by an Olympic medalist — is about to be sued by 16 former patients in federal court.

Lawyers for the accusers are set to announce the new case against Nassar, who treated America's top gymnasts for years, at a press conference Tuesday in Michigan.

Although Nassar traveled widely as the team doctor for USA Gymnastics, he had a sports medicine practice at Michigan State University, which will also be named in the federal lawsuit.

The scandal broke in September, when two former patients told the Indianapolis Star they were molested by Nassar under the guise of invasive medical treatments.

Since then, up to 60 ex-patients have filed police complaints against the physician. Three of them have filed lawsuits against Nassar and USA Gymnastics or Nassar and MSU in state court in California.

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In November, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, who took over the investigation, filed charges against Nassar, alleging that he molested a family friend for years, starting when she was 6 years old.

Then, last month, federal prosecutors charged Nassar, 53, with possession of child pornography, and an FBI agent testified that tens of thousands of images were found on disks and drives discovered in a trash can outside his house and inside his home.

Related: USA Gymnastics Doctor Charged With Child Porn

The cache included video from a GoPro that Nassar took as he was swimming in a pool; it shows him grabbing and penetrating the genitals of at least two girls, and groping and pulling down the tops of others.

"Any case involving child pornography is, of course, serious," Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Lewis said during the hearing. "But here the defendant has shown through his conduct that he's a hands-on offender. He's a hands-on offender in almost every context and position he can work himself into.

"It's conduct that's been going on for more than 15 years. And it's not just conduct that happened a while ago and he'd moved on. It's conduct that's continued to this year."

Magistrate Judge Raymond Kent ordered Nassar held without bail, not because he is a flight risk, but because he considers him a danger.

"If the testimony of Agent Charles is accurate, Dr. Nassar poses the worst kind of risk to our community: a risk to our children, Kent said. "We simply can't have somebody like him free in the community with access to children as young as six years old."

Related: USA Gymnastics Opens Sex-Abuse Review

Nassar has pleaded not guilty to all charges. His attorneys have not addressed the pornography charges but have said that any "procedures" he performed on patients were medical in nature.

The lawsuits filed so far have alleged that USA Gymnastics, famed coaches Bela and Marta Karolyi and Michigan State turned a blind eye to Nassar's alleged abuse.

MSU fired Nassar this fall, saying an investigation showed he had not complied with requirements to use gloves and a chaperone during intravaginal treatments — rules that were put in place after a 2014 complaint from a patient that prosecutors declined to pursue.

The university said it could not comment on the federal lawsuit because it had not yet been filed but said in statement that school officials are "deeply disturbed" by the charges and the case is a "top priority" for MSU police.

"Our hearts go out to those directly affected," the statement said.

An internal review is still underway, and the school is examining whether changes are needed in clinic policies and operations.

"MSU at this time has found no indication of any reports against Larry Nassar alleging sexual assault being made prior to the complaint MSU investigated immediately in spring 2014," the university said.

USA Gymnastics, the governing body for the sport, said it fired Nassar in the summer of 2015 in response to unspecified athlete "concerns," and reported him to the FBI. It's unknown what action was taken at that time, but MSU has said USA Gymnastics did not report its concerns to the university.

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