After seven days of heart-wrenching testimony from women abused as teens, former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced Wednesday to 175 years in prison by a judge who called it “an honor and privilege” to lock him up for molesting girls he was supposed to be treating.
Michigan Judge Rosemarie Aquilina had assured brave victims there would be no leniency, and she was true to her word, delivering a sentence that makes certain Nassar, 54, will never know life again outside a prison wall.
“I just signed your death warrant,” Aquilina told him as his victims and their families looked on. “It is my honor and privilege to sentence you. You do not deserve to walk about outside a prison ever again. You have done nothing to control those urges and anywhere you walk, destruction will occur to the most vulnerable.”
Nassar had agreed to a minimum 40-year sentence when he pleaded guilty last year to seven counts of first-degree criminal sexual misconduct.
He still faces sentencing in another county for three more counts to which he pleaded guilty, and he has already been sentenced to 60 years in federal prison for possession of child pornography.
Hours after the sentencing, Michigan State University president Lou Anna Simon submitted her resignation amid accusations that the university was complicit in its failure to stop the abuse, according to The State News, a student newspaper.
Nassar ran his sports medicine operation at Michigan State, where much of the abuse took place.
Court react to Larry Nassar’s 175-year sentence
But Nassar’s punishment began before Aquilina sentenced him, as he was forced to sit and listen while 156 of his victims described, sometimes in graphic detail, the horrors of their abuse, and painted him as a monster who preyed upon the most vulnerable for his own personal pleasure.
Among the former patients who accused him of molesting them were Olympic gold medalists Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas and McKayla Maroney.
“You are so sick, I can’t even begin to comprehend how angry I feel when I think of you,” Raisman said in a victim-impact statement. “You lied to me and manipulated me to think that when you treated me you closed your eyes because you had been working hard, when you were really touching me, an innocent child, to pleasure yourself.”
Kentucky lawyer Rachel Denhollander was one of the first women to publicly accuse Nassar, stepping forward in 2016 after the sport’s governing body, USA Gymnastics, was accused of mishandling sexual assault complaints.
“You have become a man ruled by selfish and perverted desires,” Denhollander told Nassar, saying he groped and fondled her when she was a 15-year-old gymnast. “I can speak the truth about abuse without minimization, or mitigation, and I can call it evil, because I know what goodness is, and this is why I pity you.”
A day earlier, gymnast Mattie Larson, was more succinct, speaking for every abused gymnast who had ever crossed Nassar’s perverted path.
“I can’t even put into words how much I f—ing hate you,” Larson said.
When the painful parade of victims was over, Nassar had his say.
“There are no words that can describe the depth and breadth of how sorry I am for what has occurred,” Nassar said. “An acceptable apology to all of you is impossible to write and convey. I will carry your words with me for the rest of my days.”
But Nassar’s apology rang hollow, especially with Aquilina, who shared a different Nassar sentiment in a letter the fiend wrote to the court recently.
“I was a good doctor because my treatments worked, and those patients that are now speaking out are the same ones that praised and came back over and over,” Nassar wrote. “The media convinced them that everything I did was wrong and bad. They feel I broke their trust. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”
The letter “tells me you still don’t get it,” Aquilina said, dismissively tossing the letter aside. “I wouldn’t send my dogs to you, sir.”