Former United States Olympics gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for criminal sexual conduct by a Michigan court on Wednesday morning, concluding a week-long hearing that saw many of his victims step forward and testify.
“I just signed your death warrant,” Judge Rosemarie Aquilina told Nassar in the Lansing, Michigan courtroom. The disgraced former doctor was already sentenced to 60 years in prison in December on child pornography charges. “Your words these past several days have had a significant emotional effect on myself and shaken me to my core,” Nassar said in a final statement. “I will carry your words with me for the rest of my days.”
The 54-year-old had pleaded guilty to seven counts of criminal sexual misconduct before the sentencing hearing, which saw 168 impact statements given by his accusers as a part of his plea deal set by Judge Aquilina.
“You are no longer victims. You are survivors. You are very strong,” Judge Aquilina said to those who testified.
“You did this for your pleasure and your control,” she told to Nassar. “I would not send my dogs to you, sir… You can’t give them back their innocence, their youth… It was my honor and privilege to sentence you. You do not have the right or privilege to walk outside a prison ever again.”
The seven days of testimonies were highlighted by Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman, who delivered an emotional 13-minute statement.
“You do realize now the women you so heartlessly abused over such a long period of time are now a force? And you are nothing?” she asked Nassar. “I will not rest until every last trace of your influence on this sport has been destroyed like the cancer it is.”
Nassar began working with United States Gymnastics in 1986 while completing his osteopathic medical degree at Michigan State University. Ten years later, he was appointed as national medical coordinator of U.S. Gymnastics.
For over two decades, Nassar sexually abused countless gymnasts, most of them minors, as he used his power to take advantage of unassuming patients.
However, in a letter he wrote to the court last week, Nassar again defended his actions and put blame on the victims. Judge Aquilina read aloud parts of that letter Wednesday.
“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 in the letter. “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.”
Michigan assistant attorney general Angela Povilaitis said in her final remarks that the sentencing hearing would be viewed as “a turning point in how our community, our state, our nation, our culture looks at sexual abuse.”
“This courtroom was where the shame that many survivors felt was exorcised from them and put where it belongs, right on him,” Povilaitis said.
In 2016, Rachael Denhollander was the first to come forward to file a criminal complaint accusing Nassar of abusing her in 2000. Denhollander’s heroics opened the floodgates for more than 140 women to step forward to accuse Nassar, including Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas and McKayla Maroney.
Biles, who captivated the nation during the 2016 Summer Games while winning four gold medals, was one of the last to step forward, revealing on her Twitter page on Jan. 15 that she too was abused by Nassar at U.S. Gymnastics’ long-time training center at the Karolyi Ranch in Texas.
On Friday, U.S. Gymnastics cut ties with the ranch.