Former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar (54) has been sentenced to between 40 and 175 years in prison for abusing athletes in his care. He pleaded guilty to 10 counts of sexual assault against girls and young women, including Olympians. Before the Wednesday sentencing Nassar had already been sentenced to 60 years for possession of child pornography.
In 2015, USA Gymnastics – the sport’s top governing body – quietly cut ties with Nassar over allegations about his professional care. Angela Povilaitis, the assistant attorney general of Michigan, called him “the most prolific sexual child abuser in history.”
Judge Rosemarie Aquilina reached her decision after a sentence hearing that heard from dozens of women and girls, including the Olympic champions Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney.
The Olympic team doctor had already admitted in November to molesting seven girls in his care, masking it under “treatment”. But a total of 156 girls and women came forward to speak at the seven day long hearing, saying they had also suffered abuse at his hands, with two dozen more submitting private letters to the court.
Late on Wednesday, the president of Michigan State University, where Nassar also treated athletes, said on Wednesday she was tendering her resignation. Lou Anna Simon had faced a barrage of criticism for not doing enough to halt the abuse by the doctor, which was mentioned in a front page editorial by the independent student newspaper that cast “Simon, her appointees and cheerleaders” as “enablers”.
“As tragedies are politicized, blame is inevitable. As president, it is only natural that I am the focus of this anger,” Simon said in her resignation letter.
Judge Aquilina told Nassar Wednesday: “It is my honor to sentence you because, sir, you do not deserve to walk outside of a prison ever again. Anywhere you walk, destruction would occur to those most vulnerable.”
She added: “I just signed your death warrant.”
The disgraced physician gave a brief statement before Aquilina handed down the sentence, acknowledging the “pain, trauma and emotional destruction” experienced by his victims.
“Your words these past several days have had a significant emotional effect on myself and have shaken me to my core,” he said. “I will carry your words with me for the rest of my days.”
The sentencing follows a week of harrowing testimony from scores of women, including Olympic gold medal gymnasts Aly Raisman and Jordyn Weiber. Their teammates, McKayla Maroney, Gabby Douglas and Simone Biles, also revealed they had been abused by Nassar.