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Nassar takes sentencing appeal to Michigan Supreme Court

Karen Bouffard
The Detroit News

Serial sex offender Larry Nassar has appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court following the state Court of Appeals' denial in December of his request to be sentenced by a different judge. 

Nassar's 49-page application for Leave to Appeal, filed Tuesday, maintains that Ingham County Circuit Judge Rosemarie Aquilina was biased when she sentenced him to 40 to 75 years in prison in 2017.  

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Nassar is the former Michigan State University doctor accused of sexually assaulting hundreds of young women, teenage and prepubescent girls under the guise of medical treatment over more than two decades.

Larry Nassar

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has until March 16 to respond to the filing, Michigan Supreme Court spokesman John Nevin said Saturday. 

"Found out yesterday that Larry filed his writ of certiorari asking the MI Supreme Court to grant him leave to appeal his sentence in Ingham County sentence," said Rachael Denhollander, the lawyer and former gymnast who first reported Nassar's abuse, in a Tweet on Saturday. 

"So now we wait. Again. Abuse. The gift that keeps on giving."

Nassar pleaded guilty to seven counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct in Ingham County and three counts of criminal sexual conduct in Eaton County in 2017.

He contends that comments and social media posts by Aquilina during and after his trial in Ingham County revealed bias against him.

According to Nassar's request to the Supreme Court, Aquilina repeatedly called him a "monster," expressed wishes that he be subjected to repeated sexual assault in prison, and said she was "honored" to sign his" death warrant." 

"During sentencing she allowed others to disparage him, his attorneys, others, and the judicial system," the application noted, adding that Nassar was physically attacked in the Eaton County Circuit Courtroom, within minutes of being placed in general population at a federal prison and also at the federal prison he was sent to following the first federal prison attack. 

Nassar also maintains that emotional testimony from 150 of his victims during his seven-day trial flipped the balance of the proceeding in favor of the victims and away from the defendants. 

"(W)hat happened at Dr. Nassar’s sentencing crystalizes the need for this Court to address the competing interests at sentencing between the state constitutional and statutory rights of the victim and the federal and state constitutional rights of a criminal defendant," the application states. 

The abuse by Nassar occurred from 1998 to 2015, and the crimes he pleaded guilty to all involved children under the age of 13, or between the ages of 13 and 16.

Sarah Klein, the first known victim of Nassar, and a civil and trial attorney, said on Sunday she is grateful to the Court of Appeals for denying Nassar's request to be resentenced by a different Judge and hopes the Michigan Supreme Court denies his appeal.

Klein, a former competitive gymnast, said Nassar is appealing his case as attempted payback for what happened when more than 100 women came together inside of a courtroom to tell the truth about who he is and what he did.

"What happened in Judge Aquilina’s courtroom was not bias. It was the truth, plain and simple. And what we’re seeing is that Larry — still — cannot handle the truth. This is a last ditch effort to exert control from inside a cell," Klein said.

In addition to his state sentences, Nassar was sentenced to 60 years on federal charges for possession of 37,000 images and videos of child pornography found stored on his computer.

Nassar is currently incarcerated in a federal prison in Florida.

kbouffard@detroitnews.com

Twitter:@kbouffardDN