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Court continues Friday at 9 a.m. EST in the Ingham County, Michigan sentencing hearing of disgraced sports doctor Lawrence Nassar. He had been set to be sentenced in the afternoon after four days of victim impact statements, but more people are speaking out than initially expected. Survivors and their supporters are laying out how he used his position with USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University to sexually abuse women and girls during what were supposed to be medical procedures.
He did this sort of thing for decades. Katie Rasmussen said Thursday that Nassar abused her when she was between 11 and 13 years old. Another woman, gymnast Jessica Tarrant, said he molested her when she was 14. She is serving overseas in the U.S. Marines and could not make it to court, so a video statement was shown.
Such a move showed how the court accommodated survivors. That’s how U.S. Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney, who said Nassar drugged and sexually assaulted her, managed to give a statement. A prosecutor read a letter on her behalf in court. This technically violated a gag order in connection to her $1.25 million settlement with USA Gymnastics over the assault, but officials said they won’t fine her.
This hearing stems from Nassar pleading guilty in November to seven counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, but the court accepted speakers whose claims weren’t adjudicated in court.
This included survivor Melody Posthuma Vanderveen, and most others.
#LarryNassar – Next survivor is Melody Posthuma Vanderveen. Nassar faced charges related to her, known as victim F, but the charges were dropped when she said she couldn’t handle going forward. pic.twitter.com/ex4UIBVzgo
— Law & Crime Network (@LawCrimeNetwork) January 18, 2018
Nassar ticked off Judge Rosemarie Aquilina by writing a six-page letter claiming that sitting in court during the statements were affecting his mental health, and accusing the judge of seeking publicity. Aquilina called him “delusional,” and that she didn’t ask media outlets to show up.
Prosecutors asked for a sentence between 40 and 125 years in prison. The women don’t feel bad for Nassar.
This is what gymnast Lindsey Lemke had to say
Larry, I want you to know that last night, as I was writing my statement, I had an affirmation pop up on my phone that read, ‘Never let someone with the significance of a speed bump become a road-block in your life.’ So, while you are praying the rosary for forgiveness, it is clear that God has my back and he is on my side–not yours.
Lemke also called out others as well. She said USA Gymnastics helped cover up the abuse, and that MSU created an environment where victims feared speaking out.
A university spokesman told Law&Crime on Tuesday that they’re sympathetic to the survivors, but insisted that they weren’t culpable for the disgraced doctor’s actions.
Nassar also pleaded guilty in November to three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. That sentencing hearing for that is set for January 31 in Eaton County, Michigan. A federal judge sentenced him in December to 60 years behind bars for child porn charges. That may well be a virtual life term for the 54-year-old.
Stay with Law&Crime.com and the Law&Crime Network for continuing coverage of the hearing.
Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.
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