Dad Tries to Rough Up Ex-Sports Doctor in Court

Randall Margraves, father of three victims of Larry Nassar , left, lunges at Nassar, bottom right, Friday, Feb. 2, 2018, in Eaton County Circuit Court in Charlotte, Mich. The incident came during the third and final sentencing hearing for Nassar on sexual abuse charges. The charges in this case focus on his work with Twistars, an elite Michigan gymnastics club. (Cory Morse/The Grand Rapids Press via AP)

(CN) – A father of three girls sexually assaulted by Larry Nassar lunged at the disgraced former sports doctor during a sentencing hearing Friday but was quickly wrestled to the ground by sheriff’s deputies and detained.

Randall Margraves’ two daughters Madison and Lauren Margraves had just spoken during a sentencing hearing in an Eaton County, Mich., courtroom about their experiences at the hands of Nassar, a former USA Gymnastics doctor who molested them under the guise of medical treatment. Hundreds of other women and girls have accused Nassar of sexual abuse.

Their father asked Judge Janice Cunningham if he could say a few words. He then asked if he could have “five minutes alone” in a “locked room” with Nassar.

When the judge declined, Margraves stormed toward the defense table but was pushed back by Nassar’s defense attorney Matt Newburg and restrained by three sheriff’s deputies.

He did not make physical contact with Nassar, who was dressed in orange prison overalls and flinched in his chair as Margraves lunged. The father was handcuffed and led out of the courtroom.

Judge Cunningham ordered Margraves detained but he has not been arrested or booked, Eaton County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Jerri Nesbitt told the Lansing State Journal.

Margraves’ three daughters have all testified about Nassar’s sexual abuse. His third daughter spoke at last month’s hearing in Ingham County, where a judge sentenced Nassar to 40 to 175 years in state prison on charges of criminal sexual conduct.

Statements in Cunningham’s courtroom in Eaton County have been live streamed on the internet, like the extraordinary proceedings that prompted more than 150 women and girls to make statements in Ingham County.

Before Friday, Cunningham’s hearings were more subdued. In sharp contrast to Judge Rosemarie Aquilina in Ingham County, Cunningham appeared to go out of her way to make her statements brief and measured. Proceedings in Eaton County have felt less emotional and more procedural.

That was spun on its head Friday morning, when Margraves tried to attack Nassar. Seconds before, Margraves had asked the judge if he could speak, a request that Cunningham cautiously granted, perhaps sensing his roiling anger.

It didn’t take long for him to make his feelings known.

“You son of a bitch,” Margraves said, his eyes narrowing on Nassar.

Cunningham warned Margraves that she wouldn’t accept swearing but told him that she understood his anger, anxiety and his feeling of “wanting retribution.”

“In a courtroom, we don’t use profanity. But if you have some words that you would like to say, I would like to give you the opportunity to say them,” Cunningham said.

“I would ask you as part of the sentencing to grant me five minutes in a locked room with this demon. Would you do that? Yes or no?” Margraves said to nervous laughter. “Would you give me one minute?”

“No sir, I can’t do that,” Cunningham said.

Almost on cue, Margraves stormed toward the defense table to anguished cries from the courtroom.

Nassar’s attorney Newburg put his body between Margraves and his client and pushed the father backward. A deputy flung Margraves back by the waist, and another grabbed him by the upper body and head, wrestling him violently to the ground. It took three deputies to restrain Margraves, as he wriggled on the floor.

“I want that son of a bitch,” Margraves growled. “Give me one minute with that bastard.”

Michigan Assistant Attorney General Angela Povilaitis turned to face the courtroom immediately after the melee. By that point, it appeared that Judge Cunningham had exited.

“No one can behave like this. I want to make sure it’s crystal clear,” Povilaitis said.

“You haven’t lived through it, lady,” Margraves shot back.

After he was led out, Povilaitis continued her plea: “This is not helping your children. This is not helping your community. This is not helping us. This is not helping the police department. Use your words, your experiences, to get him [Nassar] into change. Do not use physical violence.”

When Cunningham returned to the courtroom, she reminded the audience that it was her job to mete out punishment.

“We cannot react by using physical violence and assault against someone who is and has performed criminal acts,” the judge said. “That’s not how our system works. What Mr. Nassar did is horrible, it’s unthinkable. But please, let the criminal justice system do what it is supposed to do.”

This is Nassar’s third sentencing hearing. Last November, the 54-year-old was sentenced to 60 years in federal prison on child pornography charges.

Aquilina said that she was signing his “death warrant” when she sentenced him 40 to 175 years to state prison last month.

The proceedings in Eaton County are based on Nassar’s guilty plea last year to three felony counts of criminal sexual conduct related to molestation of three athletes at the Twistars gym club, run by Olympic coach John Geddert. Geddert and other coaches have come under fire for bullying tactics that allowed Nassar to befriend athletes, gain their trust and become their confidants.

Over 250 women have come forward to report that Nassar molested them, Cunningham said on Wednesday. More than 30 women have given victim-impact statements in her courtroom. Proceedings are expected to continue through next week.

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