Judge Rosemarie Aquilina sentenced former U.S. Gymnastics sports director Larry Nassar to up to 175 years in prison, calling him “despicable” and guaranteeing, she said before she read the sentence, that Nassar will “be in darkness for the rest of his life.”
“I just signed your death warrant,” Aquilina said in the packed Michigan courtroom.
Nassar, 54, had previously admitted to molesting several top gymnasts Though he'd pleaded guilty to assaulting only seven girls and women, the sentencing followed weeks of emotional testimony from more than 150 women, who described in graphic, emotional detail about how they had been groped, fondled, assaulted, and raped by the doctor under the guise of sports treatment.
“Sir, you do not deserve to walk outside of a prison ever again. You have done nothing to control those urges, and anywhere you walk, destruction will occur to those most vulnerable,” Aquilina said.
“You knew you had a problem from a young age; this is clear to me,” Judge Aquilina said. “You could have taken yourself away from temptation, but you did not. You could have sought treatment. But you decided to not address what’s inside you that causes this control urge, that causes you to be a sexual predator. So your urges escalated.”
Calling Nassar “possibly the most prolific serial child sex abuser in history,” Michigan prosecutor Angela Povilaitis had asked the judge overseeing the case for the maximum penalty. Aquilina agreed, saying, “I’m not good at math, but I have a cheat sheet. It is my privilege on counts one, two, five, eight, 10, 18, and 24 to sentence you to 40 years,” which amounts to more than 175 years in prison in conjunction with the federal charges against him.
He has already been sentenced to 60 years in federal prison for child pornography convictions.
Before the sentencing, Nassar was given the opportunity to address his victims. “Your words these past several days have had a significant effect on myself and have shaken me to my core," he said. "I will carry your words with me for the rest of my days.”
Over the course of seven days, Nassar heard statements from more than 150 survivors of his abuse, including high-profile Olympic gold medalists like Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney, Gabby Douglas, Jordyn Wieber, and Simone Biles. Some of those who accused Nassar were molested when they were as young as 6.
“As I stand here, I still flash back to the feelings of fear, laying frozen in his office, my sweating shaking body, adrenaline pumping, painfully clutching the sides of the table, waiting for the sick treatment to be over,” said one victim, Megan Halichek, who saw Nassar when she was 15 to treat a fractured spine, during the victim impact statement portion of the trial.
“He molested me and he molested me with my mom in the room,” another gymnast, Rebecca Mark, said.
Cover: Former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar arrives for impact statements during the sentencing phase in Ingham County Circuit Court on January 24, 2018 in Lansing, Michigan. (JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP/Getty Images)