Judge to ex-USA Gymnastics doc Larry Nassar: 'I just signed your death warrant'

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Lauren Glassberg reports on the sentencing of ex-gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar in a sex abuse case. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

The former sports doctor who admitted molesting some of the nation's top gymnasts for years under the guise of medical treatment was sentenced Wednesday to 40 to 175 years in prison by a judge who proudly told him, "I just signed your death warrant."

The sentence capped a remarkable seven-day hearing in which more than 150 of Larry Nassar's victims offered statements about the physician who was renowned for treating athletes at the sport's highest levels. Some confronted him face to face in the Michigan courtroom.

"It is my honor and privilege to sentence you. You do not deserve to walk outside a prison ever again. You have done nothing to control those urges and anywhere you walk, destruction will occur to those most vulnerable," Judge Rosemarie Aquilina said.

Nassar's actions were "precise, calculated, manipulative, devious, despicable," she said.

When the hearing ended, the courtroom broke into applause. Victims and prosecutors embraced at the conclusion of the grueling 16-month case.

WATCH: 'Powerful Army of Survivors' address Dr. Nassar
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Watch a compilation of impact statements from victims who confronted Dr. Larry Nassar in court.


Before serving the Michigan sentence, the 54-year-old Nassar must first serve a 60-year federal sentence for child pornography crimes. With credits for good behavior, he could complete that sentence in about 55 years. But by then, he would be more than 100 years old if still alive. He is scheduled to be sentenced next week on more assault convictions in Eaton County, Michigan.

Hours after the sentencing, MSU President Lou Anna Simon said she was resigning amid mounting pressure over the way the university handled the Nassar case. That came shortly after Michigan lawmakers voted overwhelmingly for a nonbinding House resolution that sought her removal over allegations that the school missed chances to stop Nassar.

In her resignation letter, Simon said as tragedies are politicized, blame is inevitable. She acknowledged she was a natural focus of the anger as president.

Simon, who earned her doctorate at Michigan State in 1974, was promoted to school president in 2005.

A prosecutor called Nassar "possibly the most prolific serial child sex abuser in history" and said he found competitive gymnastics to be a "perfect place" for his crimes because victims saw him as a "god."

Prosecutor Angela Povilaitis also said Nassar "perfected a built-in excuse and defense" as a doctor, even though he was "performing hocus-pocus medicine."

"It takes some kind of sick perversion to not only assault a child but to do so with her parent in the room," Povilaitis said. "To do so while a lineup of eager young gymnasts waited."

She urged people to believe young victims of sexual abuse no matter who they accuse.

Although Nassar's work with gymnasts received the most attention, the allegations against him spanned a dozen sports over 25 years.

Nassar turned to the courtroom gallery to make a brief statement, saying that the victims' accounts had "shaken me to my core." He said "no words" can describe how sorry he is for his crimes.

"I will carry your words with me for the rest of my days" he said as many of his accusers wept.

Watch Nassar's full statement here:
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Watch Dr. Larry Nassar's full statement given during his sentencing hearing.


The judge then read from a letter that Nassar had written to her in which he complained about the sentence he had been given in the child-pornography case and defended his actions with the athletes as "medical, not sexual."

"I was a good doctor because my treatment worked, and those patients that are now speaking out were the same ones that praised and came back over and over, and referred family and friends to see me."

Watch the judge's full statement here:
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Watch Judge Rosemarie Aquilina's full statement during the sentencing of Dr. Larry Nassar.


One of the first athletes to publicly accuse Nassar of sexual assault was the last victim to offer a statement at the hearing.

Rachael Denhollander is a Kentucky lawyer who stepped forward in 2016 after the sport's governing body was accused of mishandling complaints of sexual assault. She said Nassar groped and fondled her when she was a 15-year-old gymnast in Michigan.

Denhollander's statements to Michigan State University police put the criminal investigation in high gear in 2016.

"You have become a man ruled by selfish and perverted desires," she told Nassar, who worked at the university and USA Gymnastics, the governing body that also trains Olympians.

Nassar pleaded guilty to assaulting seven people in the Lansing area, but the sentencing hearing was open to anyone who said they were a victim. His accusers said he would use his ungloved hands to penetrate them, often without explanation, while they were on a table seeking help for various injuries.

The accusers, many of whom were children, said they trusted Nassar to care for them properly and were in denial about what was happening or were afraid to speak up. He sometimes used a sheet or his body to block the view of any parent in the room.

"I'd been told during my entire gymnastics career to not question authority," a former elite gymnast, Isabell Hutchins, said Tuesday.

PHOTOS: Nassar's victims speak at sentencing


Hutchins and Mattie Larson, a former national gymnast, talked about how Nassar won their allegiance with candy, Olympic trinkets and encouraging words while they were under constant scrutiny from demanding coaches.

The judge praised the victims who appeared in her court, calling them "sister survivors." The women included Olympians Aly Raisman, Jordyn Wieber and McKayla Maroney.

Brooke Hylek, a gymnast who plans to compete in college, heaped scorn on Nassar.

"I cannot believe I ever trusted you, and I will never forgive you," she said Tuesday. "I'm happy you will be spending the rest of your life in prison. Enjoy hell by the way."

Emily Morales had a softer message.

"I want you to apologize to me right here," the 18-year-old told Nassar. "I want to forgive you, but I also want to hear you tell me that you regret all the hurting you caused."

He did. She replied with, "Thank you."

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