LANSING, Mich. – Former sports physician Larry Nassar was sentenced 40 to 175 years in prison for sexually abusing young athletes.
More than 150 victims -- 156 to be exact -- delivered impact statements during the seven-day sentencing hearing in 2018. Nassar, who worked as a physician for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University, sat and listened to each statement as many were followed by a courtroom applause.
An emotional Nassar addressed the court before his sentencing.
"Your words these past several days have had a significant emotional effect on myself and have shaken me to my core," he said. "I also recognize that what I am feeling pales in comparison to the pain, trauma and emotional destruction that all of you are feeling. No words can describe the depth and breadth of how sorry I am for what has occurred. An acceptable apology to all of you is impossible to write and convey. I will carry your words with me for the rest my days."
In November, Nassar pleaded pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting young athletes including some girls under the age of 13. The 54-year-old originally was charged with more than 20 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and was scheduled to go to trial on Dec. 4. Instead he agreed to a plea deal that could have gotten him a minimum prison sentence of 25 years. He admitted he sexually assaulted the girls for his own pleasure without any medical grounds.
On Wednesday, Judge Rose Marie Aquilina asked Nassar if he wanted to revoke his guilty plea. She asked him again if he is guilty.
"I accept my plea exactly," he said.
As Aquilina handed down the sentence she told Nassar "I just signed your death warrant." She described Nassar's sentencing as a "privilege" for her.
Overall, Nassar was sentenced for seven counts of felony criminal sexual conduct in the first degree. Aquilina also awarded restitution to survivors for an amount to be determined.
Nassar sent complaint letter to judge
After the first couple days of intense and emotional victim statements, Nassar complained in a letter to Aquilina that the statements were unfair and that the judge was using the hearing for her own attention. He also complained about his mental health.
"I'm very concerned about my ability to be able to face witnesses this next four days mentally," he wrote in the letter.
Aquilina hit back.
"This isn't worth the paper it's written on. There's no truth in here. It's delusional," she said.
Nassar gets 60 years in prison for child pornography
Meanwhile, investigators found more than 37,000 images of child porn on Nassar's electronic devices. His lawyers say he "deeply regrets" his crimes.
He was sentenced to 60 years in prison after pleading guilty to child pornography charges including receipt and attempted receipt of child pornography, possession of child pornography, and destruction and concealment of records and tangible objects.
As part of the plea agreement he was not prosecuted for sexual exploitation and attempted sexual exploitation of children, as well as interstate or international travel with intent and engaging in illicit sexual conduct. Those charges were related to an incident which is alleged to have occurred in Nassar's swimming pool with two children in the summer of 2015.
How did this go on for so long?
For many, the number of victims in the Nassar case is staggering, as is the length of time he was able to get away with sexually abusing his patients. Throughout the legal process surrounding Nassar’s case, there have been several explanations for why nothing was done to stop the situation earlier. In lawsuits filed by many victims, they claim Michigan State University failed to act after they reported concerns about Nassar’s treatment.
Student athletes and parents claim they alerted MSU officials, but Nassar continued to work for the university. Victims have also expressed their reluctance to report Nassar because of his elevated status as a doctor in the gymnastics world. Young women who went public with their stories said they viewed Nassar as a god when they were girls. He was renowned as the best in the business, and victims said they didn't feel like they should question him.
Attorney general considers investigation
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is considering an investigation into how MSU handled the situation.
Schuette's office is weighing whether there is enough to launch an investigation into how the situation with the sports doctor went on for so long and if anyone at the university knew what he was doing.
The university hired a former federal prosecutor to investigate whether the school handled things properly with Nassar. The prosecutor concluded in findings to the university that "Nassar fooled everyone around him -- patients, friends, colleagues and fellow doctors at MSU."
The findings also noted that the prosecutor’s investigation showed that no one at the school knew that Nassar was engaging in criminal behavior.
Schuette asked MSU for the findings and the university turned over what it had.
December 2020: Larry Nassar won’t be resentenced despite judge’s remarks