Disgraced US Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar has been sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for molesting young female gymnasts, following days of testimony from 160 of his victims.
“I’ve just signed your death warrant,” Judge Rosemarie Aquilina told Nassar as she handed down his sentence. “It is my honour and privilege to sentence you because you do not deserve to walk outside of a prison ever again.”
Nassar, 54, pleaded guilty in November to seven counts of first-degree sex assault. He also pled guilty to three additional charges in another county, which he will face trial for next week. Prior to this sentence, he was already serving a 60-year sentence in federal prison on child pornography charges.
The former doctor, who served with the US Gymnastics team through four Olympic Games, read out a statement of his own apologising to those he had abused following his sentencing. “I will carry your words with me for the rest of my days,” he said.
Judge Aquilina rejected his apology, before reading out a letter Nassar had sent her earlier in which he claimed to be a “good doctor” who had been coerced into pleading guilty. “This letter tells me you still do not own what you did,” the judge said, after tossing the sheet of paper aside.
This GIF of Judge Aquilina throwing away the letter Larry Nassar wrote the court about how hard it is for him to listen to victim testimonies PRETTY MUCH SAYS IT ALL. pic.twitter.com/5HB9WMaPqU— Ellie Hall (@ellievhall) January 24, 2018
The public gallery frequently burst into shows of emotion as the women approached the podium and delivered their victim impact statements. Included among those giving testimony were Olympic gold medalists Aly Raisman and Jordan Wieber, members of the 2012 team.
“You are pathetic to think that anyone would have any sympathy for you,” Raisman said. “You think this is hard for you? Imagine how all of us feel.”
“Imagine feeling like you have no power and no voice. Well, you know what, Larry, I have both power and voice. And I am only beginning to just use them.”
Also delivering her impact statement was Rachael Denhollander, the first woman to go public with her allegations – which opened the floodgates and led to this trial. “I pity you,” she said to Nassar.
A standing ovation erupted as she ended her statement, and continued as she walked back to her seat, where she was swarmed by other survivors.
The US Olympic Committee delivered a statement on Wednesday, admitting that they were one of the organisations which failed these women:
The purpose of this message is to tell all of Nassar’s victims and survivors, directly, how incredibly sorry we are. We have said it in other contexts, but we have not been direct enough with you. We are sorry for the pain caused by this terrible man, and sorry that you weren’t afforded a safe opportunity to pursue your sports dreams. The Olympic family is among those that have failed you.