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Former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar has been sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison on 10 state counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. Judge Rosemarie Aquilina said it was a “privilege” to sentence Nassar, noting that he is likely to die in prison. “I’ve just signed your death warrant,” she said as she sentenced him. Nassar was separately sentenced to 60 years on federal charges of child pornography; the state sentence will be served consecutively, bringing his total prison sentence to as many as 235 years.
The judge also ordered restitution for the survivors, who will be able to access a county fund to pay for any medical expenses related to the case.
The sentencing follows a week of impact statements read by 156 survivors of the abuse, including Olympians Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney. Aquilina was given a binder of additional impact statements by survivors who chose not to read them in open court.
Rachael Denhollander, the first victim to publicly accuse Nassar of sexual assault, spoke last. She begged the court to consider “how much is a little girl worth?” Answering her own question, she said they are worth “all the protection that the court can provide through the maximum sentence under the plea agreement.” Aquilina called her “the bravest person I’ve ever had in my courtroom.” Denhollander received a standing ovation after her testimony.
After the survivors finished reading their statements, Nassar addressed the court. Speaking at times directly to the survivors present in the courtroom, he said their words have “shaken me to my core.”
“An acceptable apology to all of you is impossible to write or convey. I will carry your words with me for the rest of my days,” Nassar said.
Aquilina read aloud a letter from Nassar that he provided to the court two months after his guilty plea. Although he offered a public apology in court, in the letter, he insisted that the survivors are seeking financial reward as motivations for allegations that he called “fabrications.” “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” he wrote, which prompted audible shock as Aquilina read his words to the court. Video of Aquilina tossing his letter aside quickly went viral.
In a post-sentencing press conference, Denhollander told Channel 4 Detroit that she is pleased with the sentence though there is more work to be done. “It’s absolutely the right sentence,” Denhollander said. “But this is the biggest sexual assault scandal in history, and we should want to know why it happened. If we don’t, things are not going to get better.” Based on reactions posted on social media, the gymnastics and sports community at large also appear to be satisfied that justice has been delivered, with many praising both Aquilina and Denhollander. Feminists writers also noted that this is the first high-profile criminal case of the #MeToo movement, which began in October 2017 after the New York Times published an exposé of disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.
Below are a few of the reactions to the sentencing from members of the gymnastics community.
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