Judge rebukes Nassar over 'mental health' woes

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Lansing – The attorney for disgraced Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar presented the judge presiding over his sentencing with a letter expressing concern for his mental health as he listens to four days worth of victim impact statements.

Judge Rosemarie Aquilina refused to be swayed by the six-page, single-spaced, typed letter from Nassar, reminding him he is required to sit there and pay attention.

“You may find it harsh that you are here listening,” she said. “But nothing is as harsh as what your victims endured for thousands of hours collectively, you spent thousands of hours perpetrating criminal sexual conduct on minors.”

Aquilina spoke directly to Nassar in court, saying not only did she want to provide time for the victims to heal by giving their impact statements, it was required as part of his plea deal.

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That list of victims included at least 140 women who could speak, she said.

“I didn’t want one victim to lose their voice,” Aquilina said. “It allows for the healing of victims so that they can move forward.”

Then, she reminded him of his crimes.

“Spending four or five days listening to them is significantly minor considering the hours of pleasure you’ve had at their expense and ruining their lives.”

Victim impact statements continue today, and Aquilina says she will allow the sentencing to continue into next week so that everyone who wants to speaks will have time.

Aquilina said in his letter, Nassar accused the judge of "having a four-day media circus and making me sit in the witness box so the cameras can be on her."

He wrote he's had two "stressful heart moments" and that if he passed out, she would prop him back on the witness stand, the judge said.

She responded: "I don't think there is any surprise. The media has been following you every single step of the way. I didn't invite them. I don't need any publicity. I didn't orchestrate this. You did, by your actions and your guilty plea."

Judge Rosemarie Aquilina speaks to defendant Larry Nassar and the court about his complaint letter she received overnight.

The third day of Nassar's sentencing started with Jamie Dantzscher, a member of the Team USA Gymnastics and Bronze Medalist at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.

Dantzscher said after Nassar massaged her, stretched her while he was on top of her, he inserted his fingers into her vagina and anus without gloves or lubricant. She came forward in August 2016, when she was attacked on social media and USAG tried to discredit her with statements supporting Nassar.

"People didn’t believe me, even people who thought were my friends...They called me a liar, a whore ... Instead of backing down, I continued to speak my truth," Dantzcher said. "You knew I was powerless. You pretended to be my friend. How dare you ask for our forgiveness?"

A statement from McKayla Maroney followed Dantzscher. Maroney, retired USA gold-medal-gymnast, a had a written statement read by the prosecutor's office. She wrote the scariest night of her life was when she 15 years old and flying to Tokyo in 2011. Nassar gave her a sleeping pill and when she awoke he was giving her a "treatment" in his hotel room.

"I got to the Olympics, reached my dreams. But not without a price," she wrote. "A question that has been asked over and over again is how did this happen for so long to so many young women? Lies in Michigan State, the USAG and the US Olympic Committee. Complaints were lodged in the 1990s but ignored."

Maroney recently faced a $100,000 fine if she spoke at Nassar's hearing after officials had her sign a confidential $1.25 million settlement to keep secret the sexual abuse she suffered as a teen.

The USA Gymnastics issued a statement Wednesday saying it "has not sought and will not seek any money from McKayla Maroney for her brave statements made in describing her victimization and abuse by Larry Nassar."

"This has been her right and USA Gymnastics encourages McKayla and anyone who has been abused to speak out," according to the statement.

Aquilina said, "her voice screams loudly."

Read more:

What MSU knew: 14 were warned of Nassar abuse

MSU's Simon faces victims: Today is about your story

Larry Nassar: A trail of sexual abuse