US doctor sentenced to 175 years in prison for sexual abuse

US doctor sentenced to 175 years in prison for sexual abuse
Larry Nassar is sentenced to 175 years in prison for sexual abuse. Photo: Peter Busch, Facebook

On Wednesday a judge in Michigan delivered their sentence to Larry Nassar for 175 years in prison. Nassar is a former doctor for the United States women’s gymnastics team and pleaded guilty to several counts of sexual abuse.

The punishing yet symbolic sentence followed an emotional week of testimony from upwards of 150 women.  These testimonies included medal winning Olympians McKayla Maroney and Aly Raisman who accused Nassar of sexually abusing them pretending it was medical treatment.

The live broadcast of the hearings prompted nationwide outcry over the scandal that has carried on over more than 18 months. The issue is set to cause a great deal of reform in the governing body of women’s gymnastics.

In a crowded courtroom on Wednesday, the serving Judge Rosemarie Aquilina roasted Nassar for what she identified as a failure to acknowledge his guilt. Addressing Nassar directly, Aquilina said “I just signed your death warrant”.

Of the young women who gave testimony against Nassar, Aquilina said they were now “survivors” and no longer victimised.

In November, Nassar pleaded guilty to seven charges of sexual assault in Michigan. He still currently awaits sentencing on another 3 charges in Eaton County. In December he earned a 60 year federal prison sentence for child-pornography and obstruction of justice charges.

On Wednesday afternoon Scott Blackmun, the US Olympic Committee President, made a statement saying that his organisation was launching an investigation to discover how the abuse was able to occur on such a widespread scale. Blackmun said that the culture of the Olympic sport needed to be changed and threatened that he would decertify the sport if the governing body did not make sweeping reforms.

Kerry Perry, the USA Gymnastics President, made a statement supporting the sentence as a means to “bring justice to those he abused” and to send a message about sexual abuse.

The cases involving Nassar related to almost a dozen different young girls and women who were abused by him over the last 20 years. This number included athletes a family friend of Nassar.

On Wednesday Nassar gave a short address toward the audience in the courtroom saying that he had no words to “express how sorry I am”. Nassar continued by saying he would carry the testimonies with him throughout his sentence.

The first woman to go public with claims against Nassar was Rachael Denhollander, who revealed his abuse of her in an interview in 2016. Over a year before Denhollander’s claim, Nassar was removed from the USA Gymnastics organisation after members of the national women’s team voiced concerns about his medical care.

Following the scandal, AT & T, the last major sponsor for the US Gymnastics organisation, said that is was withdrawing support, citing the abuse charges. USOC, MSU and USA Gymanstics have denied any wrongdoing that enabled Nassar.