Larry Nassar, the former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics team physician who sexually abused over 140 women, has finally been sentenced for his crimes. The 54-year-old criminal received a minimum sentence of 40 years and a maximum sentence of 175 years in Michigan state prison. Reading the sentence as Nassar’s victims wept, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina declared: “I’ve just signed your death warrant.”
Nassar served as the Team USA Gymnastics physician for four Olympic Games, but despite his victims claiming they had made complaints as far back as 1997, it wasn’t until 2016 that his sexual crimes drew widespread attention when one woman – Rachael Denhollander – came forward to the Indianapolis Star.
Nassar, who is already serving a 60-year prison sentence for child pornography convictions, listened to testimonies from 156 accusers during his seven-day hearing. His victims talked of the severe effects caused by his abuse, from depression and crippling guilt to self-harm and even suicide attempts.
Nassar’s victims included famous Olympic gold medalists Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney, who called him a “monster human being”, as well as lesser-known athletes such as Denhollander. Denhollander testified in court this week, speaking of the mental health issues she had suffered after being sexually assaulted by Nassar as a 15-year-old club gymnast from Kalamazoo. “He did this with my own mother in the room, carefully and perfectly obstructing her view so she would not know what she was doing…It was clear to me this was something Larry did regularly,” she said. “As Larry was abusing me each time, I thought it was fine because I thought I could trust the adults around me.”
Denhollander added that part of the problem was people not listening. “The reason that everyone who heard about Larry’s abuse didn’t believe it is because they did not listen. No one knew [because] no one handled the reports of abuse properly.”
After his final victim read her testimony aloud, Nassar turned to the courtroom and offered an apology. “There are no words that can describe the depth and breadth for how sorry I am for what has occurred,” he said. “I will carry your words with me for the rest of my days.”