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Former sports physician Larry Nassar loses last appeal of sex assault sentence

The sexually abusive doctor, whose actions have triggered massive settlement payments from a university and Olympic organization, said he was not given a fair hearing after the judge lambasted him in court and rubbed his long prison sentence in his nose.

DETROIT (CN) — Disgraced Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics sports doctor Larry Nassar lost his final appeal in the Michigan Supreme Court on Friday and will spend the rest of his life in prison for sexually molesting women athletes, including Olympic gymnasts.

In a two-page order, the judges were quick to side with the women who were abused by Nassar.

“We decline to expend additional judicial resources and further subject the victims in this case to additional trauma where the questions at hand present nothing more than an academic exercise," the order states.

Nassar’s lawyers sought a new state court sentencing hearing for their client based on the belief he was not treated fairly when Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina called him a “monster” who would “wither” in prison.

The high court conceded the appeal was a “close question,” but were not convinced to move forward.

“We share the concerns of both the Court of Appeals majority and dissent about the conduct of the sentencing judge in this case and seriously question whether the majority committed error by affirming the trial court’s denial of defendant’s motion for disqualification and motion for resentencing," the unsigned order states.

However, the court found that the significance of the judge’s comments were “seriously limited as the question of this judge’s impartiality or bias arises in markedly fact-specific circumstances, involving an unusually high-profile and highly scrutinized case and a unique sentencing procedure.”

In January 2018, Aquilina put an end to a week of wrenching victim-impact statements and sentenced Nassar to 40 to 175 years in state prison.

“I just signed your death warrant,” the judge said after handing down the sentence.

Before the sentence was announced, Nassar told his victims in the courtroom, some of whom sobbed loudly as he spoke, that he would “carry your words with me for the rest of my days.”

"Your words these past several days have had a significant emotional effect on myself and have shaken me to my core," Nassar said. "What I am feeling pales in comparison to the pain and emotional trauma that you have all endured."

Nassar, now 58, is also serving a 60-year sentence on federal charges in addition to the state sentence. His failed appeal at the Michigan Supreme Court effectively guarantees he will die in prison.

In May 2018, Michigan State University announced that it agreed to pay a $500 million settlement to hundreds of women and girls sexually abused by the former university and USA Gymnastics doctor. MSU and attorneys representing 332 victims said the university would pay $425 million to the plaintiffs in the litigation and an additional $75 million would be set aside for future claimants.

USA Gymnastics also reached a $380 million settlement agreement with sexual abuse survivors in late December 2021 that allowed the organization to emerge from bankruptcy.

In April, 13 women who were sexually abused by Nassar each filed claims seeking $10 million from the FBI, accusing the agency of mishandling an investigation into Nassar and dragging its feet to catch up after learning more horrific details.   

The Justice Department’s inspector general reported last year that several errors in judgment were made by the FBI when it became aware of allegations against Nassar in 2015.

Earlier this month, Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles and dozens of other women who say they were sexually assaulted by Nassar announced they are seeking more than $1 billion from the FBI for failing to stop the physician when the agency first received allegations against him.

Categories / Appeals, Criminal, Health, Sports

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