LANSING, Mich. — As pathetic and self-absorbed as ever, as weak mentally as he was ethically, Larry Nassar wrote a six-page, single-spaced letter to circuit court Judge Rosemarie E. Aquilina complaining about his ability to hold up mentally and physically in the face of days of victim statements directed at him and his decades of sexual molestation of young women.
The stress of the statements is all too much for … him.
Nassar, a former Michigan State and USA Gymnastics team doctor, has pleaded guilty to sexually abusing his former patients, mostly gymnasts. Part of the deal here in Ingham County, Michigan, allowed for any of his victims, which number in the hundreds, to address the court and tell their stories.
Thursday is Day Three of the extraordinary event that could stretch into next week. Some 105 women are expected to speak, with the number growing by the day. Nassar, 54, is already serving 60 years for child pornography and will be sentenced to up to 125 more years here. There are additional charges out of Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Nassar, sitting in the witness box, has looked broken and beaten down as the stories of his vile behavior are directed at him in often powerful, poignant and angry statements. Most were young girls when they were abused. They are now grown women. Through tears, hesitant voices and sometimes wholly appropriate shouting, they have cursed, humiliated and torn Nassar apart, calling themselves an unstoppable army.
The onslaught caused Nassar to write Aquilina questioning, “my ability to be able to face witnesses these next four days, mentally.”
Aquilina was aghast.
“You may find it harsh that you are here listening, but nothing is as harsh as what your victims endured for thousands of hours at your hands collectively,” Aquilina said, staring at Nassar. “You spent thousands of hours perpetrating criminal sexual conduct on minors.
“Spending five or six days listening to them is significantly minor considering the thousands of hours of pleasure you had at their hands, ruining their lives,” Aquilina said.
Nassar, true to form, seemed to back down in the face of Aquilina, who served in the U.S. National Guard, who has been a combination of tough and sensitive, often supporting the victims after each statement. Aquilina said the setup with the victim statements was specifically spelled out in the plea deal to which Nassar agreed.
Nassar said he felt a little better Thursday morning and called the letter a cry for help.
“It was cathartic,” he said.
Aquilina would have none of it, noting that mental health services are available at the county jail, at the “taxpayers expense.”
Nassar also criticized the relentless media presence at the trial and suggested the judge was doing this for personal publicity.
Aquilina reminded that this is a public courtroom and the First Amendment protects the rights of the media. She hailed the presence of reporters and cameras as a way to get these stories out to the public.
“The media has followed you in the federal system, every stage here and will likely be there with Judge Cunningham [in Grand Rapids],” Aquilina said. “That is no surprise, is it?”
“No,” Nassar mumbled.
“I didn’t ask any media to be here,” Aquilina said.
She read another part of the letter where Nassar said he has twice passed out during his court procedures, including the morning last month for his federal sentencing. Nassar stated that if he passed out on the stand this week, Aquilina would call EMTs, have them bring him back and then just “prop him up” to listen to more.
Aquilina scoffed at that suggestion.
“This isn’t worth the paper it’s written on,” she said to Nassar. “There is no truth in here. It’s delusional.”
She then again promised that everyone would get to speak for as long as they wish. She reminded that anyone else can still come forward. While the original schedule called for a verdict Friday afternoon, Aquilina said that it might take until next week, five or six days of victim statements, if necessary.
Moments later, former U.S. Olympic gymnast Jamie Dantzscher took to the podium and described how Nassar abused her for years, including the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
“How [expletive] dare you say you’re sorry for what you did and the lives you destroyed,” Dantzscher said, unloading as she glared at Nassar. “You are a pathetic monster that is only sorry that you got caught. I am here, along with the other women, to tell you your days of manipulation are over. We have the power now.”
Nassar’s head just sunk.
Fifty or more victims still to go. Larry Nassar will sit there and listen to every last one of them. His feelings no longer anyone’s concern.