Capping the rising tide of pervasive sex-abuse scandals unleashed by the recent takedown of Harvey Weinstein, moments ago the former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University sports doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to between 40 and 175 years in prison for the sexual assault of dozens of girls.
The sentencing on seven charges of criminal sexual conduct in Ingham County, Michigan followed seven days of testimony from more than 150 current and former gymnasts who said Nassar molested them while professing to treat them for injuries.
“I just signed your death warrant” said Judge Rosemarie Aquilina after issuing the verdict and added that it was “honor and privilege” to sentence him Nassar.
“Your crime, all of your crimes, the depth of them, have cut into the core of this community and many communities,” Aquilina said during the sentencing.
“You did this for your pleasure,” she said after reading a letter by Nassar submitted to the court. “You still think that somehow you are right, that you are a doctor … I wouldn’t send my dogs to you, sir.”
“You do not deserve to walk outside of a prison ever,” she said.
Aquilina then addressed the gymnasts present, telling them, “You are no longer victims, you are survivors.”
Nassar, 54, pleaded guilty in November to seven counts of first-degree sex assault. He was already serving a 60-year sentence for child pornography convictions, and is still awaiting sentencing on three charges of criminal sexual conduct in Eaton County, Mich.
Speaking before the sentencing, Nassar addressed his victims who confronted him over the past week: “There are no words that can describe depth and breadth of how sorry I am,” he said. “I will carry your words with me for the rest of my days.”
Larry Nasser just addressed the court — and his victims. Here’s what he said. https://t.co/49ElDNNCiY
— Meg Wagner (@megwagner) January 24, 2018
However, the judge dismissed his remarks as insincere and read out a letter in which he claimed he was compelled and “manipulated” into pleading guilty. The courtroom audibly gasped as she read his letter aloud. She offered Nasser to change his plea, which he declined.
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Prosecutor Angela Povilaitis said Wednesday that Nassar is “possibly the most prolific serial child sex abuser in history.”
“To each survivor, thank you,” she said. “Thank you for coming forward, for trusting us, for doing what is so hard and difficult. What is obvious is that a strong group of determined women can in fact change the world, and will.”
Among the victims who spoke at the sentencing were Olympic gymnasts Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney. Gymnasts Gabby Douglas and Simone Biles also accused Nassar of sexual assault.
Three members of USA Gymnastics’ top leadership stepped down earlier this week over the scandal, and the organization said earlier this month that it would move training facilities from Karolyi Ranch, where Nassar abused the girls.
The NCAA has also opened an investigation into Michigan State University’s handling of sexual abuse claims against Nassar. He was a doctor at the university from 1997-2016.