USA Gymnastics has failed to report to police many allegations of sexual misconduct by coaches. That allowed predatory coaches to continue working with children for years after the organization was warned. Robert Scheer/IndyStar

Child sex abuse charges filed against longtime USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar — who was first exposed in an IndyStar investigation — are the “tip of the iceberg,” Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said Tuesday.

“The guy was a predator … we’ll get the conviction,” Schuette said at a news conference.

The attorney general said his office is working on Nassar’s case with the FBI and U.S. attorneys. He said it involves multiple jurisdictions and venues, but he declined to say the number of jurisdictions where charges might be filed.

The Michigan State University Police Department has 11 investigators working full time on the case, Chief James Dunlap said at the news conference. He said the agency has received about 50 tips about Nassar, who served as team physician for USA Gymnastics at four Olympic Games.

Nassar posted a $ 1 million bond Tuesday after being arrested Monday on three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a person younger than 13.

Nassar faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. How Nassar, 53, knew the alleged victim is unclear. Police documents allege the abuse happened at the doctor’s home in Holt, Mich.

The victim, Schuette said, was “just a child. A little child.” She was not a patient or a gymnast. Court documents say the abuse occurred between 1998 and 2005.

“She provides fortitude to every woman, every girl and every daughter,” Schuette said of the victim, who’s referred to in court documents as “Victim A.”

The attorney general said “many, many” complaints have been made against Nassar, and “we are hopeful that other victims may step forward.”

Nassar’s lawyer, Matthew Newburg, declined comment to the Lansing State Journal after Tuesday’s arraignment.

In September, IndyStar first reported sexual abuse allegations against Nassar by two women, including an Olympic medal winner. After that story, 36 people filed sexual assault complaints with Michigan State University police at addresses where the doctor worked. The alleged abuse occurred from 1996 to 2016.

Nassar was a faculty member at Michigan State before being fired Sept. 20 for failing to meet “certain employment requirements.”

Newburg has said that Nassar, an osteopathic physician, is innocent of allegations reported in IndyStar, including digital penetration of patients. Newburg said Nassar used proper medical techniques. IndyStar also reported allegations of Nassar not using gloves and not having chaperones present.

Nassar worked 29 years for Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics before leaving the national governing body in 2015 under disputed circumstances. USA Gymnastics said it cut ties with Nassar in response to “athlete concerns.” Nassar said he resigned voluntarily.

The majority of the alleged instances of sexual abuse occurred years before USA Gymnastics said it first became aware of complaints about Nassar and reported him to the FBI.

Rachael Denhollander, the first person to come forward to police and IndyStar, said Monday she was “brokenhearted to understand even more who this man really is.”

“I have hope that justice is coming for him,” said Denhollander, who agreed to be named by IndyStar. “I have hope that he will never again put another child through this nightmare. And I have hope for all of us who are no longer living in silence. This is only the beginning of justice, and only the beginning of hope.”

Nassar also is named in two civil lawsuits in California with anonymous plaintiffs. One is an Olympic medal winner who alleges that she and other gymnasts were abused by Nassar and that USA Gymnastics “knew of, or had reason to know of,” Nassar’s “propensity and disposition to engage in sexual misconduct with minors.”

The other plaintiff was a member of the U.S. Women’s National Team from 2006 to 2011 and a world team member in 2010. She said she was sexually abused by Nassar over several years. That lawsuit also named the famed coaches Bela and Martha Karolyi, claiming they “turned a blind-eye to the sexual abuse being perpetrated” by Nassar, who in turn kept quiet about the couple’s “regime of fear, intimidation, and physical and emotional abuse” of young gymnasts.

USA Gymnastics is named in that lawsuit as well.

USA Gymnastics released a statement Monday about the charges against Nassar: “As we previously have made clear, when USA Gymnastics first learned of athlete concerns regarding Dr. Nassar, those concerns were reported to the FBI and Nassar was dismissed from further involvement with USA Gymnastics.”

In a recorded interview Sept. 12, Nassar’s then-attorney told IndyStar — with Nassar present — that the doctor never used a procedure involving vaginal penetration. But Nassar’s current attorneys later said the doctor has used a legitimate medical procedure that includes manipulation that, under Michigan law, would be considered vaginal penetration.

“Dr. Nassar is not changing his story in any way,” his attorneys said in a statement. They said Nassar showed police videos that demonstrate the procedure he used.

Michigan’s attorney general took over the case from the Ingham County prosecutor in October, saying in a news release, “This complex case is believed to have crossed into multiple jurisdictions in Michigan, and possibly across state lines.”

USA Gymnastics President Steve Penny in 2014 praised Nassar as being “instrumental to the success of USA Gymnastics at many levels, both on and off the field of play.” Nassar also is president of the Gymnastics Doctor Autism Foundation, which helps gymnastics clubs establish programs for special-needs children.

In a school board election earlier this month in Holt, Mich., Nassar received 21 percent of the vote — 2,730 ballots. That was the case even though he had said he was withdrawing from the race but it was too late to get his name removed from the ballot. Nassar lost by more than 1,500 votes.

Lansing State Journal reporters Christopher Haxel and Matt Mencarini contributed to this story.

Call IndyStar reporter Mark Alesia at (317) 444-6311. Follow him on Twitter: @markalesia.

Call IndyStar reporter Tim Evans at (317) 444-6204. Follow him on Twitter: @starwatchtim.

Call IndyStar reporter Marisa Kwiatkowski at (317) 444-6135. Follow her on Twitter: @IndyMarisaK.

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IndyStar will continue to investigate this topic. If you have information you would like to share, please email or call (317) 444-6262.


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