Guilty of sexually assaulting more than 150 women and girls, including members of the USA Gymnastics national team, Dr. Larry Nassar was sentenced Wednesday to 175 years in prison. Last month, Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to possessing child pornography and obstruction of justice.
Shortly after reading an Indy Star investigation into USA Gymnastics turning a blind eye to prominent sexual abuse, former gymnast Rachael Denhollander stepped forward in 2016 to reveal the repeated molestation’s that she suffered under Dr. Nassar’s care. According to Denhollander, she was 15 years old when Nassar began inappropriately touching her in his office in 2000.
Although Nassar stated that he was merely conducting medical exams, more than 150 women and girls have accused the doctor of massaging their breasts and genitals, making lewd comments, and penetrating their anuses and vaginas. In December 2017, U.S. District Judge Janet Neff sentenced Nassar to 60 years in federal prison after he pleaded guilty to receiving child pornography in 2004, possessing child pornography from 2003 to 2016, and destroying and concealing evidence in 2016 when he believed, correctly, that ongoing investigation by law enforcement would reveal his child-pornography activities.
Before delivering her sentence on Wednesday, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina read aloud a letter that Nassar had recently wrote to the court, in which he defended his actions, falsely claimed he had been manipulated into pleading guilty, and accused his victims of lying.
“I was a good doctor because my treatments worked, and those patients that are now speaking out are the same ones that praised and came back over and over,” Nassar wrote. “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.”
While dismissively tossing the letter away, Judge Aquilina told Nassar that his letter “tells me you still don’t get it.”
Aquilina added, “I’ve just signed your death warrant.”
As Denhollander appeared in court to read a statement before the sentencing, Aquilina did not silence the court as they gave the former gymnast a standing ovation. Denhollander told the judge, “I realize you have many factors to consider when you fashion your sentence, but I submit to you that the pre-eminent question in this case as you reach a decision about how best to satisfy the dual aims of this court is the same question that I asked Judge Neff to consider: How much is a little girl worth? How much is a young woman worth?
“Larry is a hardened and determined sexual predator. I know this first-hand. At age 15, when I suffered from chronic back pain, Larry sexually assaulted me repeatedly under the guise of medical treatment for nearly a year. He did this with my own mother in the room, carefully and perfectly obstructing her view so she would not know what he was doing. His ability to gain my trust and the trust of my parents, his grooming and carefully calculated brazen sexual assault was the result of deliberate, premeditated, intentional and methodological patterns of abuse — patterns that were rehearsed long before I walked through Larry’s exam room door and which continue to be perpetrated I believe on a daily basis for 16 more years, until I filed the police report.
“Larry’s the most dangerous type of abuser. One who is capable of manipulating his victims through coldly calculated grooming methodologies, presenting the most wholesome, caring external persona as a deliberate means to insure a steady stream of children to assault. And while Larry is unlikely to live past his federal sentence, he is not the only predator out there and this sentence will send a message about how seriously abuse will be taken.
“So, I ask, how much is a little girl worth? How much priority should be placed on communicating that the fullest weight of the law will be used to protect another innocent child from the soul shattering devastation that sexual assault brings? I submit to you that these children are worth everything. Worth every protection the law can offer. Worth the maximum sentence.”