After seven days of victim impact statements where over 150 young women were permitted to tell their stories of sexual abuse at the hands of the ex-USA Gymnastics doctor over a span of two decades, Larry Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison. Nassar pleaded guilty to seven counts of criminal sexual assault as well as to using his privileged position as a medical doctor to take advantage of young gymnasts, including some Olympians.
The case began with an Indiana Star investigation into USA Gymnastics’ involvement in silencing women who had made sexual assault allegations against Nassar and then gained traction along with the Me Too movement. At the time of the trial, 156 women had come forward to make claims against the disgraced doctor. In an unprecedented move, the judge presiding over the case, Rosemarie Aquilina, allowed all the women affected and some family members to have as much time as they needed to read victim impact statements in court. In front of Nassar.
Aquilina called the women “sister survivors” and is being praised for her compassionate handling of the case. Compassionate to the victims, that is. To Nassar, she was ruthless.
Judge Aquilina, in a slow & quiet voice, crushing Nassar in a vise. “You played on everyone’s vulnerability. I’m not vulnerable. Not to you. … I swore to uphold the Constitution and the law. … And I know exactly what to do. … It is my honor and privilege to sentence you.”
— Dan Zak (@MrDanZak) January 24, 2018
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a galley burst into applause at the end of a sentencing before. Judge Aquilina gave Larry Nassar the public gutting he deserved, and everyone knew it.
— shauna (@goldengateblond) January 24, 2018
“As to the media who want to talk with me, I’m not going to be making any statements. … It’s just not my story.” After the appeals process, “if you talk to me about this case, I will have a survivor with me, because it is their story.”
— Dan Zak (@MrDanZak) January 24, 2018
During the trial, Nassar submitted a statement to the court apologizing for his behaviour and asking that he not be forced to listen to more statements from the women. Aquilina allowed them to continue. At the end of the trial, she read to the court another letter submitted by Nassar in which he defended his medical procedures and claimed that the reporting on his case had made him out to be evil. There were audible gasps in the courtroom when Aquilina read, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” which Nassar had written in reference to the media. Afterwards, Aquilina said that the letter “tells me you still don’t get it” before literally tossing it aside.
Judge Aquilina: “Would you like to withdraw your plea?”
Larry Nassar: “No.”
Judge Aquilina: “Because you are guilty, aren’t you? Are you guilty, sir?” https://t.co/KWY1pm3GPO pic.twitter.com/kMoFv91mD5
— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 24, 2018
Immediately before sentencing, the judge addressed the women before her. She told them, “You are no longer victims; you are survivors.” That statement resonated with women not just in the courtroom but around the world.
Larry Nassar sentencing: Judge Rosemarie Aquilina addresses the courtroom
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) January 24, 2018
Rosemarie Aquilina has become a Hero To Voiceless Women around the World!
THANK YOU JUDGE AQUILINA! We now have a VOICE!
— Cathie Braun (@cathielbraun) January 25, 2018
To Judge Aquilina : THANK YOU, YOU ARE MY HERO
Shout out to all of the survivors for being so brave & speaking like the queens that you are while looking at that monster. He will no longer have the power to steal our happiness or joy. I stand with every one of you 💛 pic.twitter.com/b5SMmjZgeW
— Simone Biles (@Simone_Biles) January 24, 2018
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