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Larry Nassar trial: Highlights from Judge Rosemarie Aquilina's sentencing of ex-USA gymnastics doctor

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Highlights from Judge Rosemarie Aquilina's sentencing of former Olympic gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar:

Before I get to sentencing I want to talk about a couple of things. First, I've said what I needed to say to the victims. I have a little bit more to say — you are no longer victims, you are survivors. You're very strong and I've addressed you individually.

Before I say anything further, I don't know if you all know this, and I know that the world is watching. I know this because I am on the bench everyday and this isn't the only heinous crime that appears in this court.

The national crime victimization survey that's done by the Justice Department annually reports that 310 out of every 1,000 assaults are reported to police, which means that two out of three go unreported. The voices of the survivors have asked everyone: Report.

Keep your voice up. Rachel's [Denhollander] voice hopefully will raise these numbers of reports in all of your voices, but that statistic does not include children 12 and under.

One in 10 children will be sexually abused by their 18th birthday. One in seven girls, one in 25 boys by their 18th birthday.

That means that in the United States, I'm not talking about any other country, 400,000 babies born in the U.S. will become victims of child sexual abuse. It stops now. Speak out like these survivors, become part of the army.

I do one case at a time and I really so very much appreciate all of your thank yous. I've read some of the Twitters and Facebooks and all of what's going on in media. I'm not special, I'm doing my job. If you come into my courtroom any Wednesday and watch sentencing, I give everybody a voice. I give defendants a voice, their families when they're here, I give victims a voice. I treat everyone like family because that's the justice system I was raised to believe in.

"It stops now. Speak out like these survivors, become part of the army."

I came to this country stateless. I'm naturalized. My father's Maltese, my mother's German and I was raised on old country values and my grandmother always told me, my parents always told me, my grandfather always told me, that America is the greatest country. I believe that. That's why I served in the military. That's why I've always done community service. I'm not really well liked because I speak out. I don't have many friends because I speak out. If you ask me a question, you better be ready for the answer.

I speak out because I want change, because I don't believe in hiding the truth. I'm not saying I'm always right but I try.

I also don't believe that one size fits all when it comes to sentencing — another reason I listen.

I know there are some judges who for every crime they give the same punishment. I don't think that's justice.

I believe in individualized sentencing, I follow the constitution, and I believe our system works. I also believe these survivors.

Image: Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina addresses Larry Nassar, a former team USA Gymnastics doctor, who pleaded guilty in November 2017 to sexual assault charges, during his sentencing hearing in Lansing
Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina addresses Larry Nassar, a former team USA Gymnastics doctor, who pleaded guilty in November 2017 to sexual assault charges, during his sentencing hearing in Lansing, Michigan on Jan. 18, 2018.Brendan McDermid / Reuters

Now there is case law about how I can consider what I can consider and first and foremost my sentence reflects the seven in regard to who a defendant like you *inaudible*, but the remainder of you, the 161 others, add to the credibility of those seven. I'm considering everything, everyone, because your crime, all of your crimes, the depth of them, have cut into the core of this community and many communities, and all of the families, and people we don't even know.

"Your decision to assault was precise, calculated, manipulative, devious, despicable. I don’t have to add words because you survivors have said all of that and I don’t want to repeat it."

And sir, the media has asked me to release your letter. I'm not going to do that. Counsel may object, the media may object. There is some information in this letter that troubles me in regard to the victims and I don't want them re-victimized by the words that you have in here, but I do want to read some of your letter and reason is because I considered it in sentencing as an extension of your apology and whether I believe it or not. So, I want you to hear your words.

I've already read some and I'm not reading every line, but let me begin.

*JUDGE STARTS READING NASSAR'S LETTER*

"The federal judge went ballistic at sentencing, since I pled guilty to the state cases and spent 10 percent on federal case and 90 percent on the state cases and civil suits. She gave me 60 years, instead of 5 to 20 years (three consecutive 20-year sentences). I pleaded guilty to possession of porn from 9/2004 to 12/2004. Four months. The prosecutor even admitted that I never belonged to any porn sites, any chat rooms, was not on the dark web. Also, they could not prove I viewed it. It was all deleted, of course.

I shared my electronics and I could not prove that. So, for four months of porn possession, from 2004 — I was sentenced to 60 years. Not proper, appropriate, fair."

Going down a few lines: "What I did in the state cases was medical. Not sexual. But because of the porn I lost all support, thus another reason for the state guilty plea." Let me move down further.

"So I tried to avoid a trial to save the stress to this community, my family, the victims. Yet look what is happening. It is wrong." Let me move down further.

"I was a good doctor because my treatments worked and those patients that are now speaking out were the same ones that praised and came back over and over, and referred family and friends to see me. The media convinced them that everything I did was wrong and bad. They feel that I broke their trust. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned!"

(Audible reaction from courtroom)

"It is just a complete nightmare. The stories that are being fabricated too sensationalize this! Then the AG would only accept my plea if I said what I did was not medical and was for my own pleasure. They forced me to say that or they were going to trial and not accepting the plea. I wanted to plead no contest. But the AG refused that. I was so manipulated by the AG and now Aquilina, and all I wanted was to minimize stress to everyone like I wrote earlier." Going down a little bit further.

"In addition with the federal case, my medical treatments with the Olympic/national teams were discussed as part of the plea. The FBI investigated them in 2015 and found nothing substantial because it was medical. Now they are seeking the media attention and financial reward."

Aquilina addressing Nassar: Would you like to withdraw your plea?

Nassar: No, your honor.

Aquilina: Because you are guilty, aren't you? Are you guilty, sir?

Nassar: I accept my plea, exactly.

Aquila: The new sign language has become "treatment." These quotes, these air quotes. I will never see them again without thinking of you and your despicable acts. I don't care how they're used. I will always think of quotes and the word "treatment." It was not treatment, what you did. It was not medical. There was no medical evidence that was ever brought.

...............................

This letter which comes two months after your plea tells me you that you have not yet owned what you did. that you still think that somehow you are right. That you are a doctor, that you are entitled, that you don't have to listen and that you did treatment!

I wouldn't send my dogs to you, sir.

There is no treatment here. You finally told the truth. Inaction is an action. Silence is indifference. Justice requires action and a voice and that is what has happened here in this court. 168 buckets of water were placed on your so-called match that got out of control.

..............................

So, your urges escalated and based on the numbers that we all know go unreported, I can’t even guess how many vulnerable women and children and families you actually assaulted.

Your decision to assault was precise, calculated, manipulative, devious, despicable. I don’t have to add words because you survivors have said all of that and I don’t want to repeat it.

You can’t give them back their innocence, their youth. You can’t give a father back his life, or one of your victims her life when she took it. You can’t return the daughter to the mother, the father to the daughter.

You played on everyone’s vulnerability. I’m not vulnerable, not to you, not to other criminals at that podium. I swore to uphold the constitution and the law and I am well trained. I know exactly what to do. And at this time I’m going to do it and I want you to know that as much it was my honor and privilege to hear the sister survivors, it is my honor and privilege to sentence you. Because sir, you do not deserve to walk outside of a prison ever again. You have done nothing to control those urges and anywhere you walk, destruction will occur to those most vulnerable.

Now I am honoring the agreement. I’m also honoring what’s been requested of me. I want you to know, I’m not good at math. I have a cheat sheet. I’m only a lawyer. I know that you have gotten a lot of education in physics and math, but I have a cheat sheet.

It is my privilege on counts 1, 2, 5, 8, 10, and 18 and 24 to sentence you to 40 years, and when I look at my cheat sheet, 40 years just so you know, and you can count it off your calendar, is 480 months. The tail end, because I need to send a message to the parole board in the event somehow God is gracious and I know he is, and you survive the 60 years in Federal Court first and then you start on my 40 years, you’ve gone off the page here as to what I’m doing.

My page only goes to 100 years. Sir, I’m giving you 175 years which is 2,100 months. I’ve just signed your death warrant — I need everyone to be quiet, I still have contempt powers, I told you, I’m not nice. I find that you don’t get that you’re a danger. You remain a danger. I’m a judge that believes in life and rehabilitation when rehabilitation is possible. I have many defendants come back here and show me great things they’ve done in their lives after probation, after parole. I don’t find that’s possible with you. So you will receive jail credit on counts 1, 2, 5, 8, 10, and 18 of 369 days. On count 24, you will have 370 days jail credit. If you are ever out, which is doubtful, you will be required to register with the Michigan Sex Offenders Registration Act, complying with all the requirements of that act, in addition to Global Position Monitoring system, you would wear a GPS.

.........................................

This story is not about me. It never was about me. I hope I opened some doors, but you see I’m a little stupid because I thought everybody did what I did and if they didn’t, maybe they ought to, but I do this and am happy doing it. And if you don’t believe me, the keeper of my words is right by my side and lawyers who are here yes, saying yup I’ve waited too long has she lets everybody talk. Sometimes people get upset, I don’t care, I get paid the same.

So, as for the media who wants to talk to me, I’m not going to be making any statements. I know my office and I may have even — I don’t know, it's been a long couple of weeks — conveyed that after this is over, it’s just not my story. After the appellate period runs, with victims by my side to tell their stories, I might answer some more questions than what I said on the record.

I don’t know what more I can possibly say. But I’m not going to talk with any media person until after the appeal period. And even then, if you talk with me about this case, I will have survivor with me because it is their story. So I wanted everybody to hear that from me. I respect all of the media outlets, you have just done a fabulous job here. There hasn’t been any commotion or upset by this. And I do believe in the 1st Amendment, so thank you all for being here because it’s an important story for the survivors.

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