After an extraordinary seven-day hearing that drew more than 150 young women to speak out publicly about sexual abuse they said was committed by Dr. Lawrence G. Nassar, the former team doctor for the American gymnastics team, a judge sentenced him on Wednesday to 40 to 175 years in prison.
He had faced a minimum term of 25 to 40 years.
Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, who had opened her courtroom to all the young women who wanted to address Dr. Nassar directly, and forced him to listen when he pleaded to make it stop, handed down the sentence, saying to him, “You’ve done nothing to deserve to walk outside a prison again.”
“It is my honor and privilege to sentence you,” she said, and noting the length of the sentence, added, “I just signed your death warrant.”
Given an opportunity to address the court before sentencing, Dr. Nassar apologized and, occasionally turning to the young women in the courtroom, said: “Your words these past several days have had a significant effect on myself and have shaken me to my core. I will carry your words with me for the rest of my days.” Several women sobbed in the gallery as he spoke.
Just before sentencing Dr. Nassar, the judge read parts of a letter that he had submitted to the court last week, in which he complained about his treatment in a separate federal child pornography case and wrote that his accusers in this case were seeking news media attention and money. “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” he wrote in the letter. There were audible gasps from the gallery when the judge read the line.
Dr. Nassar, 54, was accused of years of molesting girls as young as 6, many of them Olympic gymnasts, under the guise of giving them medical treatment. In November, he had pleaded guilty to sexually abusing seven girls. He has already been sentenced to 60 years in federal prison for child pornography convictions.
The case, though, and its ramifications are far from over. It has ignited outrage in the sports world and beyond, leading to the resignation this week of the chairman and several board members of the governing body for gymnastics in the United States, U.S.A. Gymnastics. Last week, the organization cut ties with the Karolyi Ranch, the training center at a remote Texas ranch where many cases of abuse occurred.
There have also been calls for the resignation of the president of Michigan State University, where Dr. Nassar spent decades on the faculty and treated its athletes, as well as members of the United States national gymnastics team. The N.C.A.A. on Tuesday formally opened an investigation into the university’s conduct.
A number of civil lawsuits have also been filed.
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SOURCE: New York Times, Scott Cacciola and Victor Mather