DETROIT — Michigan’s Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a final appeal by sports physician Larry Nassar, who was sentenced to decades in prison for sexually assaulting gymnasts, including Olympic medalists.
Nassar’s lawyers say he was treated unfairly in 2018 and deserves a new hearing based on vengeful remarks from a judge who called him a “monster” who would “wither” in jail like the wicked witch in “The Wizard of Oz”.
“I just signed your death warrant,” Ingham County Judge Rosemarie Aquilina said of Nassar’s 40-year sentence.
The state Supreme Court said Nassar’s appeal was a “narrow issue” and that it had “concerns” about the judge’s conduct. But the court also noted that Aquilina, despite his provocative remarks, stood by the sentencing agreement drawn up by the lawyers in the case.
“We refuse to expend additional court resources and further subject the victims in this case to additional trauma where the questions posed present no more than an academic exercise,” the court said in a two-page order.
More than 150 victims spoke or made statements during a seven-day hearing in Aquilina court more than four years ago.
Nassar pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting gymnasts and other athletes with his hands under the guise of medical treatment for hip and leg injuries. He worked at Michigan State University and Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics, traveling the world with the sport’s elite.
“Our Constitution does not allow cruel and unusual punishment,” the judge said. “If that were the case, I must say that I could allow what he did to all these beautiful souls, these young women in their childhood. I would allow someone or several people to do to him what he did to others.”
Nassar was later given another 40-year sentence in a separate case in a nearby county.
He is currently incarcerated in a federal prison for crimes of child pornography in another case resulting from the same investigation. The sentences effectively mean that Nassar, 58, will spend the rest of his life behind bars.
The repercussions continue from the case. More than 100 women, including Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles, are collectively demanding more than $1 billion from the federal government for the FBI’s failure to arrest Nassar when agents learned of allegations against him in 2015. He was arrested by Michigan State University police in 2016, more than a year later.
The state of Michigan, which has been accused of missing opportunities for many years to arrest Nassar, agreed to pay $500 million to more than 300 women and girls who were assaulted by him. USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee have reached a $380 million settlement.