After seven days of victim statements echoing through the courtroom walls in Lansing, Mich., a verdict is officially reached regarding the future of the former United States of American gymnastics team doctor, Dr. Larry Nassar. Judge Rosemarie Aquilina sentenced Nassar to 40 to 175 years in prison on Wednesday.
“It is my honor and privilege to sentence you,” Aquilina said to Nassar while announcing the sentencing. “I just signed your death warrant.”
Judge Aquilina allowed 169 victims to come in her courtroom and share their traumatic experiences directly to Nassar, while forcing him to listen to every young woman he sexually assaulted. Of these women included Aly Raisman, Jordyn Wieber, and Kyle Stephens. Stephens was as young as six years old when she was first abused.
Nassar apologized while turning around to the young women present in the courtroom before he was officially sentenced. His remarks on how he is directly impacted by the stories shared caused several women to sob in the gallery.
During the seven day hearing, Nassar wrote a letter to the judge complaining about how differently he was treated in comparison to his other case, which involved child pornography. He claimed the accusers were seeking attention and money from the media by speaking out. Aquilina read parts of his letter before announcing his sentencing, producing audible gasps from the gallery.
In November, Nassar pleaded guilty to sexually molesting seven girls. He was previously sentenced to 60 years in federal prison due to federal child pornography charges. This time around, Nassar was accused of molesting girls, most of them being Olympic gymnasts, through giving them medical treatment. Many girls have come forward in the past only to be shut down by the United States Olympic Committee.
This hearing is only the beginning of a fire that is far from dying out. The entire situation has ignited a storm of fury in the sports world especially, with the chairman and a handful of board members resigning from the U.S.A. Gymnastics governing group. U.S.A. Gymnastics ended the relationship with the Karolyi Ranch, the training center where a lot of the abuse took place.
The United States Olympic Committee released a formal statement from CEO Scott Blackmun, saying the committee is “working on taking steps at the USOC and mandating changes among National Governing Bodies to ensure this does not happen again.” Backmun demanded the resignation of all current U.S.A. Gymnastic directors in a letter to Team U.S.A.