Thursday marked day three in the four-day sentencing hearing of former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University team doctor Larry Nassar. The convicted pedophile, who is already serving a separate 60 year sentence on federal child pornography charges, pleaded guilty to ten counts of sexual harassment in a Michigan court last year.
As part of his plea bargain, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina allowed for victim impact statements to be read aloud during his sentencing. With more than 140 victims coming forward to accuse Nassar of sexual predation, the sentencing hearing is taking longer than most.
More than 100 women have taken Judge Aquilina up on her offer, and one after another Nassar’s victims have stood in court and confronted him, often through tears. By Thursday, Nassar had apparently had enough, and tried to bring the hearing to a premature close.
First he accused the judge of inviting a media circus, noting that cameras have been present throughout the hearing and speculating that Aquilina was simply seeking attention. When those charges fell on deaf ears, he lashed out at Aquilina for allowing all of his accusers — not just the handful whose cases were part of his guilty plea — to speak.
“Aquilina is allowing them all to talk,” Nassar wrote in a lengthy handwritten letter to the court. “She wants me to sit in the witness box next to her for all four days so the media cameras will be directed at her.”
Aquilina has been adamant about affording every accuser an opportunity to address Nassar before he’s locked away for the rest of his life. And she reacted to Nassar’s complaint with mild bemusement at certain points, and fiery incredulity at others. “I didn’t want even one victim to lose their voice,” she said to him on Thursday morning. “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.”
The public is only beginning to reckon with the scope and magnitude of Nassar’s abuse. USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University have both been accused of doing nothing to protect students and athletes from Nassar, even after being told of his predation. So far, only one official from gymnastics’ governing body has resigned for his role in the Nassar case.