‘I just signed your death warrant’
Judge sentences doctor to up to 175 years in prison for molesting gymnasts
The former sports doctor who admitted molesting some of the nation’s top gymnasts for years under the guise of medical treatment was sentenced Wednesday to 40 to 175 years in prison by a judge who proudly told him, “I just signed your death warrant.”
The sentence capped a remarkable seven-day hearing in which more than 150 women and girls offered statements about being abused by Larry Nassar, a physician who was renowned for treating athletes at the sport’s highest levels. Many confronted him face to face in the Michigan courtroom.
“It is my honor and privilege to sentence you. You do not deserve to walk outside a prison ever again. You have done nothing to control those urges, and anywhere you walk, destruction will occur to those most vulnerable,” Judge Rosemarie Aquilina said.
Nassar’s actions were “precise, calculated, manipulative, devious, despicable,” she said.
When the hearing ended, the courtroom broke into applause. Victims and prosecutors embraced at the conclusion of the grueling 16-month case.
But the anguish of the past week will have little, if any, practical effect on Nassar’s fate. Before serving the Michigan sentence, the 54-year-old must first serve a 60-year federal sentence for child-pornography crimes. With credit for good behavior, he could complete that sentence in about 55 years. By then, he would be more than 100 years old if still alive.
He is also scheduled to be sentenced next week on more assault convictions in Eaton County, Mich.
A prosecutor called Nassar “possibly the most prolific serial child sex abuser in history” and said competitive gymnastics provided the “perfect place” for his crimes because victims saw him as a “god.”
Prosecutor Angela Povilaitis also said Nassar “perfected a built-in excuse and defense” as a doctor, even though he was “performing hocus-pocus medicine.”
“It takes some kind of sick perversion to not only assault a child but to do so with her parent in the room, to do so while a lineup of eager young gymnasts waited,” Povilaitis said.
She urged people to believe young victims of sexual abuse no matter who they accuse and praised journalists, including those at the Indianapolis Star, who were among the first to report on the allegations.
Although Nassar’s work with gymnasts received the most attention, the allegations against him spanned a dozen sports over 25 years.
At one point, Nassar turned to the courtroom gallery to make a brief statement, saying that the victims’ accounts had “shaken me to my core.” He said “no words” can describe how sorry he is.
“I will carry your words with me for the rest of my days” he said as many of his accusers wept.
The judge then read from a letter that Nassar had written to her that raised questions about whether he’s truly remorseful.