Quantcast
Connect with us

Ex-USA Gymnastics doctor gets up to 175 years as abuse victims applaud

Published

on

By Steve Friess

LANSING, Mich. (Reuters) – As his victims wept in a Michigan courtroom on Wednesday, disgraced long-time USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for abusing young female gymnasts who were entrusted to his care.

“I’ve signed your death warrant,” Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina told Nassar, following days of accounts from about 160 of his victims.

ADVERTISEMENT

Spectators and victims cried, applauded and embraced as Nassar, 54, wearing a dark blue jailhouse jumpsuit, was led out of the courtroom. Rachael Denhollander, the first woman to publicly accuse him in 2016, shared a hug with Angela Povilaitis, the lead prosecutor.

Nassar, who served as the program’s physician through four Olympic Games, apologized to his victims during the hearing, telling them, “I will carry your words with me for the rest of my days.”

Aquilina dismissed his statement as insincere and courtroom spectators gasped as the judge read aloud from a letter he wrote to her claiming he was a good doctor who was manipulated into pleading guilty.

Nassar, who already is serving a 60-year sentence in federal prison for child pornography convictions, also said his accusers fabricated claims to gain money and fame, writing, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”

“Would you like to withdraw your plea?” Aquilina asked Nassar after tossing aside his letter.

ADVERTISEMENT

“No, your honor,” Nassar said.

“Because you are guilty, aren’t you? Are you guilty, sir?” the judge demanded.

After a long pause, Nassar said quietly, “I have said my plea, exactly.”

ADVERTISEMENT

CHANGING VIEW

The prosecution and Aquilina emphasized the broader significance of the sentencing, coming amid a national debate over sexual misconduct prompted by accusations against powerful men from Hollywood to Washington.

ADVERTISEMENT

“At this particular moment in history, this sentence and hearing will be viewed as a turning point in how our community, our state, our nation, our culture looks at sexual abuse,” Povilaitis said.

Aquilina rattled off a series of statistics about the prevalence of sexual abuse before saying, “It stops now.”

The sentencing followed an extraordinary week-long hearing that saw Nassar’s victims unflinchingly, defiantly tell their stories in raw terms.

ADVERTISEMENT

Despite Nassar’s objections, Aquilina allowed victims who were not part of his guilty plea to speak at his sentencing. Throughout much of the proceedings, the bespectacled Nassar sat with his head bowed, rarely making eye contact with his accusers.

The women ranged from famous Olympic gold medalists like Aly Raisman to former gymnasts like Denhollander, now a lawyer, who was the last of the victims to speak on Wednesday and whom Aquilina described as “the bravest person I have ever had in my courtroom.”

McKayla Maroney, a gold medalist at the 2012 London Olympics, called Nassar a “monster human being,” while a former member of the U.S. national team said his abuse led to depression and an eating disorder.

Another gymnast said she was only 6 years old when Nassar began molesting her and blamed the doctor for her father’s suicide once he realized she had not been lying about the abuse she endured.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I’ve been forever changed by all of this and I will never feel small again,” Bailey Lorencen said after the sentencing. She had been an anonymous accuser until she spoke in court this week. “I have a different confidence in myself as a woman.”

In addition to Raisman and Maroney, Olympic gold medalists Simone Biles, Jordyn Wieber and Gabby Douglas went public in recent months with their own accusations against Nassar.

Nassar pleaded guilty in November to seven counts of first-degree sex assault in Ingham County, as well as three charges in Eaton County, where he is due to be sentenced next week.

INSTITUTIONS QUESTIONED

ADVERTISEMENT

The scandal’s impact is far from over, with prominent gymnasts castigating USA Gymnastics for its handling of the scandal and the president of Michigan State University, where Nassar also worked, coming under pressure to resign.

Around 140 victims have filed a lawsuit against Nassar, USA Gymnastics and Michigan State, claiming the institutions knew about allegations of abuse years ago and failed to act. The gymnastics body and the school have asked a judge to dismiss the cases.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) said on Tuesday that it had opened an investigation into Michigan State’s handling of the case. The school’s athletic director said in a statement that it would fully cooperate.

The Michigan House of Representatives approved a resolution on Wednesday calling on Michigan State to fire its president, Lou Anna Simon.

The Detroit Free Press, citing multiple sources, said Simon plans to step down on Thursday. University officials were not immediately available for comment.

ADVERTISEMENT

Some of the sport’s biggest names, most notably Raisman, have said USA Gymnastics is in need of reform.

On Monday, three board members resigned in the wake of the scandal, following the exit last March of the federation’s president and chief executive.

But that was not enough for the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC). On Wednesday, its chief executive, Scott Blackmun, said in an open letter that “all current USA Gymnastics directors must resign.”

He also said the USOC would launch an independent, third-party investigation into the Nassar scandal to determine “when complaints were brought forward and to who.” He said the results would be made public.

ADVERTISEMENT

USA Gymnastics replied that it supports the open letter but did not address the calls for the mass resignation. According to its web page, it has 18 directors.

Kerry Perry, who became USA Gymnastics president in December, on Wednesday applauded the sentence and vowed to “create a culture that empowers and supports” the program’s athletes.

Several companies have announced they would not continue to sponsor the federation, including AT&T Inc on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Steve Friess in Lansing, Michigan; Additional reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver, Jonathan Allen in New York, Chris Kenning in Chicago and Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Writing by Joseph Ax in New York; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Bill Trott)

ADVERTISEMENT


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Facebook

Trump criticized for trying to discredit John Bolton in Twitter tantrum: ‘You should fire the moron who hired’ him

Published

on

President Donald Trump is now trying to discredit his former National Security Advisor, Ambassador John Bolton, who has information on Trump so damning it could be the end of his presidency.

In a Twitter tantrum Trump attacked Bolton Wednesday morning, curiously not by name – presumably after reports said he had waived executive privilege previously by attacking Bolton.

For a guy who couldn’t get approved for the Ambassador to the U.N. years ago, couldn’t get approved for anything since, “begged” me for a non Senate approved job, which I gave him despite many saying “Don’t do it, sir,” takes the job, mistakenly says “Libyan Model” on T.V., and..

Continue Reading

Facebook

GOP’s Doug Collins reveals Trump’s last line of defense: ‘No matter what happened the president did nothing wrong!’

Published

on

Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) on Wednesday admitted that literally nothing President Donald Trump may have done would justify removing him from office.

During an interview on "Fox & Friends," Collins said that Republican senators should reject hearing from witnesses in the president's impeachment trial because nothing those witnesses could say would change the fact that Trump shouldn't be impeached.

"I think at the end of the day, when they look at the total case, they look at how it was presented, and how badly it was done in the House, and how poorly these articles were drafted... witnesses are not going to help this!" he said. "No matter what happened, the president did nothing wrong!"

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Rudy Giuliani eager to testify against John Bolton: ‘If he shows his face I would say — You’re an atomic bomb’

Published

on

Rudy Giuliani denied claims by former national security adviser John Bolton, and kept the door open to his own possible impeachment testimony.

The former New York City mayor said he was still President Donald Trump's personal attorney, but explained why he had not been added to his impeachment trial defense team, reported CBS News.

"Well, I am, but I can't participate in what goes on in the Congress, because I'm a possible witness," Giuliani said, adding that he's ready to testify if he got White House approval.

Continue Reading
 
 
Help Raw Story Uncover Injustice. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1 and go ad-free.
close-image