Updated Jan. 23, 2018, 7:50 a.m. PT: After a marathon seven-day sentencing hearing at which more than 150 women and girls spoke about the abuse they faced at the hands of former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, his sentence has finally been passed down. Nassar has been sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison. This is in addition to the 60 years he faces for a prior child pornography case, and he still faces sentencing for sexual abuse in another county.
Knowing Nassar will now very likely to die in prison, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, who made headlines for allowing all of Nassar’s 160 accused victims who wished to speak at his sentencing do so even though he pleaded guilty to abusing only seven of them, told Nassar in the courtroom, “I just signed your death warrant.”
After his sentence was handed down, Nassar attempted to apologize to his victims, many of whom filled the courtroom still. Turning to face them, he said, “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.”
However, Aquilina countered with a letter Nassar wrote to her just this week complaining about his treatment and accusing his victims of seeking media attention and money. “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” he wrote in his letter.
“This letter tells me you have not yet owned what you did,” Aquilina said to him. “You still think somehow you are right, you’re a doctor, that you’re entitled, so you don’t have to listen. That you did ‘treatment.’ I wouldn’t send my dogs to you, sir.”
Original story, published Jan. 10, 2017: Eighteen women have filed a lawsuit against USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University physician Larry Nassar accusing him of multiple counts of sexual assault, battery, molestation and harassment.
A majority of the women were minors at the time of the abuse according to People. Some are still underage. They were from various sports including gymnastics, swimming, figure skating, track and field, hockey, basketball and soccer.
Nassar reportedly committed the crimes by saying the acts were done as medical treatment or physical therapy between the years of 1996 and 2016.
Nassar was charged with two counts of child pornography-related charges less than a month ago. People also reports Nassar was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting two underage gymnasts just a few weeks before that.
The only victim who has been named thus far is Rachael Denhollander. She said in a 2016 interview with IndyStar that Nassar massaged her breasts and penetrated her with his fingers while she was receiving treatment for back pain. She was only 15 years old at the time.
She told reporters on Tuesday, “The fear and shame in myself was my own misunderstanding. The reality of sexual abuse is that a pedophile is only as powerful as people around him allow him to be.”
Nassar has worked for USA Gymnastics for 29 years and was held in high regard by the organization for decades, the suit reports.
“When we first learned of athlete concerns regarding Dr. Nassar in the summer of 2015, we immediately notified the FBI and relieved him of any further assignments,” the organization reports.
But the lawsuit claims USA Gymnastics failed to notify Michigan State University of its concerns and was, therefore, “grossly negligent.”
Michigan State University didn’t fire Nassar until September 2016.
The university said in a statement, “We are deeply disturbed by the state and federal criminal charges against Larry Nassar, and our hearts go out to those directly affected.”
In a Tuesday news conference, the plaintiffs’ attorney, Stephen Drew, explained the purpose of the lawsuit is not monetary gain, but rather to “act as a mechanism to achieve institutional change and non-monetary concessions so that acts of sexual abuse like this will never happen again to young athletes and students.”
He added, “Protecting them is more important than enhancing the reputation of the athletic system that invites their participation. Children are vulnerable because they trust, and once that trust and innocence is stolen it cannot be easily restored.”
Nassar has reportedly pleaded not guilty to the charges.