Larry Nassar, former USA Gymnastics and MSU physician sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for sexual abuse in Ingham County Circuit Court, filed for a resentencing on Tuesday, asking for a new judge.
Nassar is currently serving 60 years on three counts of child pornography charges which he will serve before he can begin fulfilling the 40-175 year Ingham County sentence and the 40-125 year Eaton County sentence. Nassar is also in the process of another sentencing in Texas, facing six counts of second-degree sexual assault of a child.
Nassar’s appeal claims Judge Rosemarie Aquilina of the Ingham County Case used the hearing as a platform to promote her own political views and demonize Nassar.
“Judge Aquilina made numerous statements throughout the proceedings indicating that she had already decided to impose the maximum allowed by the sentence agreement even before the sentencing hearing began,” the resentencing filing reads. “Thus, from the defendant’s perspective the sentencing hearing was just a ritual.”
Nassar’s attorneys argue Aquilina made her personal disdain for Nassar clear throughout the sentencing both in court and through multiple media interviews as well as her recent attendance at the 2018 ESPN ESPYS Awards where Nassar victims received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.
Nassar’s appeal references several statements Aquilina made in the courtroom, including her statement that she had “just signed his death warrant.”
“It is my honor and privilege to sentence you. You do not deserve to walk outside a prison ever again,” Aquilina said at the sentencing. “You have done nothing to control those urges, and anywhere you walk, destruction will occur to those most vulnerable.”
One of the Nassar survivors, LSA sophomore Morgan McCaul said even though she does not think Nassar will be successful in his appeal, his decision to call for a resentencing continues to negatively affect the survivors of his abuse.
“It impacts me personally because I have to see his face all over my social media again which I am not a fan of and it feels really disrespectful to the girls that he pled guilty to,” McCaul went on to say. “It’s less so a matter of him getting out of prison and more so a matter of prolonging the damage that it does to everyone else.”
According to the filing, Nassar was assaulted within hours of entering the prison’s general population in May. The appeal claims the assault was due to Aquilina’s demonization of him in court, alleging Aquilina was swayed by public outrage against Nassar and used the public attention for her own benefit.
“Instead of proceeding to assist the judge in reaching a fair and just sentencing decision, the judge used the nationally-televised proceeding as an opportunity to advance her own agenda, including to advocate for policy initiatives within the state as well as the federal legislatures, to push for broader cultural change regarding gender equity and sexual discrimination issues, and, seemingly as a type of group therapy for the victims” the filing reads.
The filing by lawyers Jacqueline McCann and Malaika Ramsey-Heath claims Nassar should be resentenced because Aquilina was not objective, saying Aquilina’s decision to give him a 40 year minimum when the plea deal called for a 25-40 year minimum is a result of her bias.
McCaul explained Nassar is not a victim of Aquilina’s actions in court.
“I think Larry demonized himself with his monstrous actions,” McCaul said in response to Nassar’s allegations Aquilina villianized him.
McCaul makes a distinction between what it means for Nassar to ask for a resentencing versus a retrial.
“I also think that’s its important to point out that there’s a difference between a trial and a sentencing. In this case, Larry had already pled guilty before the sentencing proceedings started,” McCaul went on to say. “This is a man who came forward and said, ‘Yes. I did these things and I did them for my own sexual predatory gratification.’ It wasn’t a matter of whether he was innocent or not so I think that distinction needs to be made and apparently needs to be made to Larry himself.”
Ultimately, Nassar’s appeal addresses Aquilina directly, calling for a new judge.
“If resentencing is ordered, it should be with a different judge,” it reads. “Judge Aquilina can be reasonably be expected to have substantial difficulty in putting out of her mind previously-expressed views or findings determined to be erroneous.”
Nassar’s Ingham County Circuit Court sentencing was a seven-day ordeal. 156 survivors spoke out. The sentencing only took place after Nassar pled guilty in November to sexually assaulting young athletes, including some young girls under 13 years old.
Nassar pled guilty to 10 sexual assault charges split between Ingham and Eaton counties.
If the 54-year-old lives to his release date of Feb. 23, 2069 for the federal child pornography charges, Nassar will also have to serve two other sentences in Michigan.
This is a developing story. Please check back at michigandaily.com for more information.