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Larry Nassar Sentenced to Up to 175 Years in Prison for Sexual Abuse

Nearly 160 women spoke against the former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University doctor

GYMNASTICS-USA-ABUSE JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP/Getty Images

Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State sports medicine doctor who pleaded guilty to 10 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct in two Michigan counties, was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison on Wednesday. The ruling came at the conclusion of a seven-day sentencing hearing during which nearly 160 women spoke or had statements read on their behalf in court.

Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, who delivered the sentence, said Nassar’s “decision to assault was precise, calculated, manipulative, devious, despicable.” The minimum sentence Nassar can serve is 40 years.

“It is my honor and privilege to sentence you, because, sir, you do not deserve to walk outside of a prison ever again,” Aquilina said. “Sir, I’m giving you 175 years, which is 2,100 months. … I just signed your death warrant.”

The Associated Press reported that when the hearing ended, the courtroom broke into applause. Nassar told the court that he had “no words,” and that the statements given by his victims had “shaken me to my core.”

Wednesday’s sentence was for the seven counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct that Nassar pleaded guilty to in Ingham County. Next week he will begin a sentencing hearing on the remaining three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct he pleaded guilty to in Eaton County in November. At least 186 women said Nassar abused them, including Olympic gymnasts McKayla Maroney — who, according to court documents, was paid by USA Gymnastics to remain silent — Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman, and Simone Biles. In December, Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in prison after pleading guilty to federal child pornography charges.

On Tuesday, the NCAA announced that it was opening a formal investigation into Michigan State University for its handling of accusations against Nassar in the years he practiced medicine there. The Lansing State Journal reported in December that the university permitted Nassar to see patients for 16 months in 2014 and 2015 while under criminal investigation for sexual assault. At least a dozen women and girls said Nassar sexually abused them during this time. Also in 2014, Nassar was briefly suspended from work during a three-month Title IX investigation, but the school allowed him to return to work after it concluded.

Nassar’s abuse was first made public by former gymnast Rachael Denhollander in a story in the IndyStar in September 2016. Denhollander was the final survivor to speak at the sentencing hearing this week. In her statement, she was critical of USA Gymnastics and Michigan State for covering up Nassar’s abuse.

“Larry is the most dangerous type of abuser. … You issue a press statement saying that there was no cover-up because no one who heard the reports of assault believed that Larry was committing abuse,” Denhollander said. “The reason everyone who heard about Larry’s abuse did not believe it is because they did not listen.”