On Wednesday, a judge sentenced Dr. Lawrence G. Nassar, 54, the former team doctor for the American gymnastics team, to 40 – 175 years in prison for the sexual abuse he inflicted on scores of young women, telling Nassar, “It is my honor and privilege to sentence you. … I just signed your death warrant.”
The seven-day hearing preceding the sentencing featured 156 women coming forth and speaking of the sexual abuse they endured from Nassar. As The New York Times reported, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina made certain any young woman victimized by Nassar had ample opportunity to speak, and forced Nassar to listen to their testimony, ignoring his plea to stop them from speaking. She told Nassar, “You’ve done nothing to deserve to walk outside a prison again.”
Nassar, whose abuse included girls as young as six years old, apologized, saying, “Your words these past several days have had a significant effect on myself and have shaken me to my core. I will carry your words with me for the rest of my days.”
Before she sentenced Nassar, Judge Aquilina made a point of reading aloud parts of a letter that he had submitted to the court last week. In the letter he alleged that the accusers targeting him for his sexual abuse were seeking attention from the media as well as money. Aquilina read Nassar’s statement, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” prompting gasps from the gallery. Nassar also wrote of the judge, “She wants me to sit in the witness box next to her for all four days so the media cameras will be directed toward her.”
When Nassar objected to the women’s testimony, snapping that Judge Aquilina had turned the hearing into a “media circus,” Aquilina responded, “Spending four or five days listening to them is significantly minor, considering the hours of pleasure you had at their expense and ruining their lives.”
A lawsuit has been filed by scores of victims against Dr. Nassar, USA Gymnastics (the sport’s governing body), and Michigan State University, where he served as a member of the faculty.
The refusal by some people in the gymnastics world to address Nassar’s widespread abuse, which had been alleged for years, prompted the resignation this week of the chairman and several board members of USA Gymnastics. There have been suggestions that the president of Michigan State University resign.
Olympic gold medalists Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney, Gabby Douglas, Jordyn Wieber and Simone Biles were just a tiny percentage of the 156 women who testified against Nassar. The woman who was one of the first victims of Nassar to speak publicly of his abuse, Rachael Denhollander, was the last victim to speak at the hearing. She stated:
Larry is the most dangerous type of abuser. One who is capable of manipulating his victims through coldly calculated grooming methodologies, presenting the most wholesome and caring external persona as a deliberate means to ensure a steady stream of young children to assault.
Aquilina lauded Denhollander for catalyzing the other women to come forward, asserting, “You are the bravest person I have ever had in my courtroom.”