Following a weeklong sentencing hearing, which included testimonies from more than 100 women and girls, former USA Gymnastics team physician Larry Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison on charges of sexual assault. As she laid out his sentence, detailing the statements she had heard from his victims, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina told Nassar he wasn't really a doctor, and she was relentless in her criticism. "I just signed your death warrant," she said.
In response to his letter, Aquilina told Nassar:
This letter, which comes two months after your plea, tells me that you have not yet owned what you did. That you still think that somehow, that you’re right, that you're a doctor and you’re entitled. That you don't have to listen and that you did treatment.
"I wouldn't send my dogs to you, Sir," she added.
Nassar pleaded guilty to seven counts of criminal sexual conduct, but Aquilina told him that his sentence reflected more than that. She told him that the sentence also reflected the testimonies of the numerous survivors who appeared at the hearing to testify against him, "because your crime, all of your crimes, the depth of them, have cut into the core of this community."
Throughout the hearing, Aquilina centered the narratives of the girls and women who testified against Nassar. Last week, after a particularly powerful impact statement, Aquilina assured those who testified that Nassar was never "going to see the light of day" following his sentencing. On Wednesday, she kept that promise when Nassar received his up-to-175-year prison sentence.
"It is my honor to sentence you because, sir, you do not deserve to walk outside of a prison ever again," Aquilina told Nassar during the sentencing. "Anywhere you walk, destruction would occur to those most vulnerable."
During Nassar's sentencing, Aquilina read out parts of a letter he had written to the court last week. CNN reported that in the letter, Nassar not only defended his career as a doctor, but also accused those who had come forward to make allegations against him of lying.
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. The media convinced them that everything I did was wrong and bad. They feel I broke their trust. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
In this letter, Nassar also said that it was too difficult for him to listen to all the victim impact statements. Aquilina used this particular section of the letter to argue that Nassar had still not owned what he had done, even after all the testimonies.
"Would you like to withdraw your plea?" Aquilina asked Nassar after reading the letter aloud. Nassar told her "no," at which point Aquilina asked him: "Because you are guilty, aren't you? Are you guilty, sir?"
"I accept my plea, exactly," Nassar responded.
According to The Huffington Post, Aquilina went one step beyond handing down the sentence. She also asked federal authorities to investigate how Nassar was able to get away with abuse for so long.
"Justice requires more than what I can do on this bench," Aquilina said.
Aquilina's statements to and about Nassar have been brutal throughout the sentencing hearing, but she simultaneously made a significant show of support to all of the girls and women who spoke out. Aquilina urged them to continue chasing their dreams, thanked them for their strength, and apologized for the fact that it had taken so long to bring Nassar to justice.
This hearing took place on the heels of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, as the #MeToo movement continues to spread across the globe, but Nassar faced his first public allegation more than a year ago, in September 2016. In December, he was sentenced to 60 years in prison on separate charges relating to child pornography. According to The Washington Post, people filed complaints against Nassar as long ago as 1997, but it was only this week that he received a sentence relating to charges of sexual assault.