After more than 150 girls, women and parents recounted the pain inflicted by Larry Nassar’s sexual abuses in an extraordinary, seven-day sentencing hearing, the disgraced former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University doctor had his say. As Ingham County (Mich.) Judge Rosemarie Aquilina read portions of Nassar’s prepared comments Wednesday, a packed courtroom in which so many expressions of anger and grief had poured forth soon resounded with some different reactions: disbelief and and scornful amusement.
At one point, Aquilina drew gasps from the attendees when she quoted Nassar as saying, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” His remarks preceded her sentence that he serve 40 to 175 years in a state prison after he had pleaded guilty in November to sexually assaulting young girls.
On Wednesday, Aquilina told the courtroom that she was not going to release Nassar’s entire letter because some parts of it in “regards to the victims” troubled her. “I don’t want them to be re-victimized by the words that you have in here,” she said (via CNN), adding that she did want to read “some more” of his letter because she “considered it as an extension of your apology and whether I believe it or not.”
Here are excerpts of what the judge recited from the bench, beginning with his take on having been sentenced last month in a federal court to a 60-year term on counts related to child pornography:
“The federal judge went ballistic at sentencing since I pled guilty to the state cases and spent 10 percent on the federal case and 90 percent on the state cases and civil suits. She gave me 60 years instead of five to 20 years (three consecutive 20-year sentences). I pleaded guilty to possession of porn from 9/2004 to 12/2004 — four months. The prosecutor even admitted that I never belonged to any porn sites, any chat rooms, was not on the dark web, and also, they could not prove I viewed it. …
“So for four months of porn possession from 2004, I was sentenced to 60 years. Not proper, appropriate, fair. …
“What I did in the state cases was medical, not sexual. But because of the porn, I lost all support, and thus another reason for the state guilty plea. …
“So I tried to avoid a trial to save the stress to this community, my family and the victim. Yet look what is happening. It is wrong.”
Aquilina gave a fairly performative reading of Nassar’s statement, leaving it clear, as she did at other points during the hearing, how little she thought of him. She drew bitter laughter in the following passage when she read Nassar’s complaint of having been “manipulated” by the attorney general:
“I was a good doctor because my treatments 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. 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. It is just a complete nightmare.
“The stories that are being fabricated to sensationalize this, then the AG would only accept my plea if I said what I did was not medical and was for my own pleasure. They forced me to say that or they were going to trial and not accepting the plea. I wanted to plead no contest, but the AG refused that. I was so manipulated by the AG and now Aquilina. All I wanted was to minimize stress to everyone, like I wrote earlier.”
Saying that she was “going down a bit further” in Nassar’s statement, Aquilina continued:
“In addition, with the federal case, my medical treatments with the Olympic/national gymnastics were discussed as part of the plea. The FBI investigated them in 2015 and found nothing substantial because it was medical. Now they’re seeking the media attention and financial reward.”
At that point, Aquilina put down the printout of Nassar’s remarks, looked over at him and asked, “Would you like to withdraw your plea?”
“No, your honor,” he replied.
“Because you are guilty, aren’t you?” she asked. “Are you guilty, sir?”
Before Aquilina read portions of his letter, Nassar spoke directly to his victims.
“Your words these past several days … have had a significant emotional effect on myself and has shaken me to my core,” the 54-year-old said. “I also recognize that what I am feeling pales in comparison to the pain, trauma and emotional destruction that all of you are feeling.”
“There are no words that can describe the depth and breadth of how sorry I am for what has occurred,” he continued, amid reported sobbing in the courtroom. “An acceptable apology to all of you is impossible to write and convey. I will carry your words with me for the rest of my days.”