After pleading guilty to seven counts of felony first-degree criminal sexual conduct in November, former U.S.A Gymnastics and Michigan State University doctor Larry Nassar has learned his fate in this case.
The disgraced former doctor was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for sexually abusing girls under the guise of medical treatment. The sentence was handed down by Judge Rosemarie Aquilina in Ingham County Circuit Court in Lansing, Mich. on Wednesday after a week of emotional testimony from his victims in court. "It is my honor and privilege to sentence you because, sir, you do not deserve to walk outside of a prison ever again," Judge Aquilina told Nassar. "I've just signed your death warrant." The judge additionally awarded restitution to survivors for an amount to be determined. Additionally, She asked him not to treat people in prison as he no longer has a license.
As Nassar exited the court room, applause broke out from attendees as many in the court hugged.
Prior to the sentencing, more than 150 survivors came forward to personally deliver impact statements or have them read in court, including one from McKayla Maroney, who came forward publicly in October 2017 to say Nassar had molested her from the time she was 13 years old.
"As it turns out, much to my demise, Dr. Nassar was not a doctor. He in fact was, and forever shall be, a child molester, and a monster of a human being. End of story! He abused my trust, he abused my body and he left scars on my psyche that may never go away," her statement, presented in court by a prosecutor, read. "Larry Nassar deserves to spend the rest of his life in prison. Not only because of what he did to me, my teammates and so many other little girls—He needs to be behind bars so he will never prey upon another child. I urge you to impose the maximum sentence upon him."
Maroney's "Fierce Five" teammate Aly Raisman, who also publicly named Nassar as her abuser, initially said she would not be attending the sentencing because of trauma, but ultimately decided to appear in person. Addressing Nassar directly, the 23-year-old declared, "The tables have turned, Larry. We are here, we have our voices and we are not going anywhere."
Before learning the sentence, Nassar addressed the court, telling survivors, "Your words these past several days...have had a significant emotional effect on myself and have shaken me to my core."
As he continued, attempting to turn around and address those sitting behind him, "I also recognize that what I am feeling pales in comparison to the pain trauma and emotional destruction that all of you are feeling. There are no words to describe the depth and breadth of how sorry I am for what has occurred. An acceptable apology to all of you is impossible to write and convey. I will carry your words with me for the rest of my days."
"Sir, I hope that's true," Judge Aquilina responded. "I hope you are shaken to your core because your victims are shaken to their core." The judge, who read excerpts from a letter sent by Nassar in court, also called for further investigation.
Earlier in the week, Nassar expressed concern over having to sit and listen to dozens of the survivors' statements in court in a six page single-spaced letter, claiming the judge had turned the sentencing into a "media circus."
"Spending four or five days listening to them is significantly minor considering the hours of pleasure you had at their expense and ruining their lives," Judge Aquilina retorted, per NBC News.
"I pray the rosary every day for forgiveness," Nassar said at one point in court during his November plea. "I want them to heal. I want this community to heal. I have no animosity towards anyone."
"I agree that now is a time of healing," Judge Aquilina retorted, "but it may take them a lifetime of healing while you spend your lifetime behind bars—thinking about what you did in taking away their childhood, which you were trained as a healer and what you did is harm them. You violated an oath that you took, which is to do no harm, and you harmed them, selfishly."
Gold medalist Simone Biles recently came forward as one of the survivors. In a lengthy social media letter, she addressed her followers, writing, "I too am one of the many survivors that was sexually abused by Larry Nassar. Please believe me when I say it was a lot harder to first speak those words out loud than it is now to put them on paper. There are many reasons that I have been reluctant to share my story, but I know now it is not my fault."
"After hearing the brave stories of my friends and other survivors, I know that this horrific experience does not define me. I am much more than this," she penned. "I am unique, smart, talented, motivated and passionate. I have promised myself that my story will be much greater than this and I promise all of you that I will never give up. I will compete with all of my heart and soul every time I step into the gym. I love this sport too much and I have never been a quitter. I won't let one man and the others that enabled him to steal my love and joy."
Following the sentencing, new USA Gymnastics President and CEO Kerry Perry issued the following statement: "During the last seven days, more than 150 courageous women have shared their deeply personal experiences and how Larry Nassar's despicable crimes impacted their lives. I am profoundly saddened that a single woman, a single girl, a single athlete was hurt. USA Gymnastics applauds Judge Rosemarie Aquilina for handing Nassar the maximum sentence of up to 175 years, in an effort to bring justice to those he abused and punish him for his horrific behavior.
"The powerful voices and strength of these survivors have left a lasting impression on all of us. Every day, their stories will impact my decisions as president and CEO every day.
"As stated on my first day on Dec. 1, 2017, I will not waiver on my commitment to focus each and every day on our organization's highest priority – the safety, health and well-being of our athletes. We will create a culture that empowers and supports them. Our commitment is uncompromising, and it is my hope that everything we do going forward makes this very clear."
In addition to this sentencing, Nassar was also given 60 years in prison after pleading guilty to three federal child pornography charges. Nassar awaits sentencing after he also pleaded guilty to three additional counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct in Eaton County. That sentencing is expected to take place on Jan. 31.
—Additional reporting by Hiba Bary