For people who thought the two sentences laid on 54-year-old Larry Nassar, the disgraced and criminal doctor to Olympic athletes, was the end of his legal battles – uh, no.
He had another week of a hearing in another Michigan court with another judge – this time dealing with accusations of molestations at Twistars, an elite Michigan Gymnastics Club.
It was his third and final sentencing hearing. Keep in mind, he’s admitted to sexually assaulting the girls under the guise of medical treatment.
Over the three trials and hearings – the first, federal charges for his possession of child pornography, the second and now the third for abuse of athletes – more than 265 in all – emotion erupted in the courtroom from the father of three victims.
Given the shocking testimony of all the victims, I’m surprised this was the first time this happened.
Randall Margraves, the father of three of Nassar’s victims, had just finished listening to two of his daughters testifying about what happened to them. He said he didn’t know ahead of time what his girls would be saying.
Lauren Margraves said their parents were “filed with regret” because they took their three children to Nassar for sports injuries – and now knew they could do nothing about what happened. She said they were “filled with regret.”
Margraves listened impassively to his daughters, but clearly he was giving in to parental emotion.
He interrupted the hearing, asking Eaton County Judge Janice Cunningham if he could have “five minutes in a locked room with this demon.”
When she declined, he asked for “one minute.” The judge declined that too and, with that, Margraves leaped across the courtroom, attempting to attack Nassar and shouting: “I want that son of a b–ch! Give me one minute with that bastard!”
The attorneys and Sheriff’s deputies restrained him, and he was dragged out of the courtroom.
The Associated Press quoted the judge as saying: “I don’t know what it would be like to stand there as a father and know that three of your girls were injured physically and emotionally by somebody sitting in a courtroom. I can’t imagine that.”
She added that, nonetheless, “It is not acceptable that we combat assault with assault.”
Margraves later apologized, telling the judge he “just snapped” when he heard his children testify and watched Nassar shaking his head, “no, no.”
Margraves said his “daughters are the heroes, and all the victims and the survivors of this terrible atrocity.”
As for the judge, she said there was “no way” she would fine him or send him to jail under her contempt of court powers.
Good for her!
The courtroom was shocked by the incident, and there was a mixture of anger and tears but no other disruptions.
It didn’t help to know that earlier in the day, Shannon Smith, one of Nassar’s lawyers, said she had doubts about the large number of women and girls who say Nassar assaulted them.
The judge said those remarks were “unfortunate,” especially given the testimony of the women. Katherine Ebert, a gymnast from age 5 to 18, said she started seeing Nassar when she was 15.
She didn’t mince any words or emotions: “You are the most vile, disgusting creature I have ever met. There are black holes in my memory that come back as nightmares or flashbacks, not wanting to believe they’re true.”
The horror of all this is compounded by the fact that there were uncounted people who knew what was going on and yet did nothing.
Heads are rolling at Michigan State University from the president on down, including professors and coaches. And the entire USA Gymnastics board has resigned. The organization is being called out for “egregious negligence.” The owner of the Twistars Club, John Geddert, also faces charges.
Making matters worse, there are published reports that the FBI knew several years ago about allegations concerning Nassar and did nothing. While there are investigations in Michigan, they are also going on in Huntsville, Texas, where a gymnastics-training ranch is run by famed Olympic coaches Bela and Marta Karoli.
There are calls for investigations from the University, from the Michigan legislature and from the U.S. Congress.
This is the biggest sports scandal in history, given the nature of the charges, the magnitude of damages and the number of victims – and yet, it has virtually disappeared from news headlines.
It makes you wonder what it would take to have the media pay such a story the proper attention it deserves.
As for Nassar, he faces 60 years for the federal child porn charges, 175 years for the second hearing before Judge Rosemarie Aquilina and now 125 years as handed down by Judge Cunningham.
Hurrah for those Michigan women judges!
Judge Aquilina wasn’t kidding when she said to Nassar, “I just signed your death warrant.”
Judge Cunningham co-signed that!
As an aside, four other people are safe from Nassar now. His wife filed for divorce in January. It was granted in July, and she has sole custody of their three children.
It’s been reported that Nassar has now been transferred to a federal facility. They had best keep him secure. I doubt he’ll be safe in the general prison population, regardless of which facility he’s in.
Earlier this month, UCLA honored four female gymnasts from its program: Olympic medalists Jordyn Wieber and Jamie Dantzscher and U.S. National team competitors Jeanette Antolin and Mattie Larson.
All four have accused Nassar of abuse. Mattie Larson minced no words and summed up what so many realize:
“Larry, you were the only one I trusted. In the end, you turned out to be the scariest monster of all.”
Media wishing to interview Barbara Simpson, please contact [email protected].