Larry Nassar's Response To The Victim Impact Statements Wasn't Enough To Lower His Sentence
On Monday, Feb. 5, disgraced former doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 125 more years in prison. This marked the end of the high-profile sentencing trials for Nassar, who was an athletic doctor for Michigan State University (MSU) and USA Gymnastics. At the conclusion of the sentencing trial in Eaton County, Michigan, on Monday, Nassar responded to the victim impact statements that have been delivered over the past month in the courts — but his court statement was not enough to sway Judge Janice Cunningham from lessening her sentence ruling.
"You are a doctor, you took an oath to do no harm and you have harmed over 256 women and that is beyond comprehension," Cunningham said in court on Monday, as reported by the Lansing State Journal.
In total, Nassar has been sentenced to 140 to 310 years in jail on both federal child pornography and criminal sexual conduct charges, both of which he pleaded guilty to committing in the course of his work as a doctor for young women and girls. He is expected to spend the rest of his life in prison.
Of the 265 women and girls who have claimed that Nassar abused them, almost 200 delivered victim impact statements in court for the 10 criminal sexual conduct charges, according to CNN.
In court on Monday, Nassar delivered a short statement, which included a response to those statements. He said,
The words expressed by everyone that has spoken including the parents, have impacted me to my inner-most core. With that being said, I understand and acknowledge that it pales in comparison to the pain, trauma and emotions that you all are feeling. It’s impossible to convey the depth and breadth of how sorry I am to each and every one involved. The visions of your testimonies will forever be present in my thoughts.
That was far from enough to move Judge Cunningham to sympathy, given the breadth of the crimes for which he was convicted. "I am not convinced that you truly understand that what you did was wrong and the devastating impact you've had on the victims, family and friends," Cunningham said.
Cunningham added that Nassar's "lifetime consequence" will be that he will not "have the ability to shut out the words of the children, and the young women, and the adults who trusted you and who you let down." That, she said, is in addition to him sitting with "the memories of destroying your own family."
During the previous sentencing case in January, Nassar had asked Judge Rosemarie Aquilina if she would stop letting the victims deliver their impact statements because it was "too difficult to listen to." Aquilina responded, "You spent thousands of hours perpetrating criminal sexual conduct on minors. Spending four or five days listening to them is significantly minor considering the hours of pleasure you had at their expense and ruining their lives." Based on Nassar's request, Cunningham may be right that living with these statements is a different kind of punishment in and of itself for him.
Nassar will be serving the federal sentencing time first, according to Lansing State Journal, which is the 60 years on child pornography charges. Per Lansing State, officials are not disclosing where he will be sent.
Although Nassar's cases are officially over, there is still work to do for the institutions that Nassar worked for — namely, MSU, USA Gymnastics, and the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC). Already, MSU President Lou Anna Simon resigned, and members of the USA Gymnastics board have resigned as well. U.S. women's gymnastics team coordinator Valeri Liukin resigned last week. The NCAA has opened an investigation on MSU, and the USOC published an open letter demanding more changes from USA Gymnastics. (USA Gymnastics has said in statements that they took action when notified about claims of abuse, and MSU investigated Nassar under Title IX in 2014, but found no evidence of misconduct.)
Meanwhile, members of Congress are demanding investigations as well. Hopefully, these statements will turn into real action that can begin to change the culture within gymnastics and ensure that something as horrific as this does not happen again.